NVIDIA GPU disappears

I am trying to determine whether a problem I am having with an NVIDIA GPU (Quadro P1000) is software-related or if defective hardware is at fault. I first noticed the issue with Fedora 30 but it appears to occur in other distributions that I have tried.

I have a Dell Precision 7530 with Intel+NVIDIA GPUs. There is a “Switchable graphics” option in the BIOS. When “Enable switchable graphics” is unchecked, the Intel GPU is disabled. When the option is enabled, both GPUs are enabled. There does not appear to be a way to disable only the NVIDIA GPU in the BIOS.

I have installed the Fedora 30 KDE spin. I had some initial issues with black screens and hangs that seem fairly common to Optimus without intervention. I installed the proprietary NVIDIA drivers from RPMFusion. At some point I noticed that only the Intel drivers were loaded, and lspci did not show anything related to NVIDIA. I rebooted and checked the BIOS settings, and the entire “Switchable graphics” menu was gone as if the laptop does not have a discrete GPU. This persisted through a few reboots and power cycles. After waiting for some time, I was able to boot the laptop and find that the “Switchable graphics menu” had returned, and Linux was once again able to find the NVIDIA GPU. However, now on any given boot, there is a good chance that the NVIDIA GPU disappears. I can reliably identify when this has happened by checking BIOS settings for the “Switchable graphics” menu. If it is not present, then I will only have the Intel GPU available.

On one occasion, I lost the NVIDIA GPU while switchable graphics had been disabled (so only the NVIDIA GPU should have been active). Linux booted using the Intel GPU. I rebooted to find “Switchable graphics” missing from the BIOS again.

I contacted Dell support, and they suggested that this is a Linux issue. That seems unlikely to me given that the issue can be identified in the BIOS on a cold boot before Linux has loaded.

I am hoping that someone more familiar with Optimus than I can give me a definitive answer on whether it is indeed possible that software is to blame or if I should pursue a hardware replacement.


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