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I answer to my own question after further trials.

So:

  • Intel chip with the default Ubuntu driver for it: simulation runs OK, but the whole system becomes slow
  • NVIDIA chip with the Nouveau Gallium driver and the BIOS option "OS detection for NVIDIA Optimus" enabled, simulation runs OK, the system is somehow faster
  • NVIDIA chip with the Nouveau Gallium driver without the BIOS option "OS detection for NVIDIA Optimus" disabled, simulation crashes, error message "X Error of failed request: BadDrawable (invalid Pixmap or Window parameter)"
  • NVIDIA chip and driver, simulation OK and system fast

So the NVIDIA driver is clearly the best option, even the Intel chip is far easier to setup for a good result.

PS: for reference, I use a LENOVO T420 laptop.