Our inbox quickly lit up this morning when we received notice about this NGOHQ article, discussing how NVIDIA had removed the heterogeneous GPU restriction on PhysX in their latest beta drivers. This struck us as a bit of an odd reversal of positions from NVIDIA, and now that we've had a chance to chat with them we finally know what's going on.

As a quick matter of background, starting with the Forceware 186 series NVIDIA blocked GPU/PPU-accelerated PhysX from working on NVIDIA GPUs and AGEIA PPUs whenever a non-NVIDIA GPU was detected as being in the system. It's been a polarizing matter for the GPU community for nearly a year now, with a tug-of-war going on between projects editing the drivers to remove the block, and NVIDIA adding further checks in to their drivers to stop those efforts. In any case, there has been no sign that NVIDIA would be changing their position any time soon.

This brings us to this week's Forceware 257.15 beta drivers and today's clarification from NVIDIA. NGOHQ was correct in that the 257.15 drivers lacked the heterogeneous GPU restriction; however there has been a question of intentions. As we stated previously NVIDIA has held steady to their desire to keep PhysX on pure NVIDIA systems, so to make this change without publically announcing it odd - if only because it deprives them of the chance to sell cards as PhysX accelerators.

We just got done talking with NVIDIA about the matter and they clarified the issue for us. In what we expect is going to be a disappointment for many of you, the lack of a PhysX restriction on the current 257.15 beta drivers is a bug, not a feature - the restriction should have been in those drivers and it was not. NVIDIA will be reinstating the restriction in new downloads of the beta driver and in the WHQL build of these drivers.

Update: NVIDIA tells us that they will also be "fixing" the 257.15 beta driver on their site, so new downloads of that driver will have the restriction in place

Yes, this is a bug in the latest build of PhysX that was packaged with the driver. We'll be fixing this issue ASAP - the WHQL driver launching in early June won't have this issue. -NVIDIA

For those of you heterogeneous GPU users out there looking to use PhysX, there is some good news that can be salvaged from this however: this won't change the fact that previously downloaded copies of beta drivers lack this restriction. With these drivers you can still have heterogeneous GPUs with PhysX without modifying NVIDIA’s drivers, but you’ll be stuck on these drivers for the time being.

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  • 0ldman - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    This stunt of disabling physx, which I don't use simply due to the driver being disabled, has cost them a customer, as well as a tech that recommends hardware to hundreds if not thousands of users.

    I was almost a 100% Nvidia shop until just recently, mostly due to being comfortable with their drivers, stability, compatibility, etc.

    AMD has knocked it out of the park in the past few years and Nvidia has completely dropped the ball. Their ego got larger than their customer base and they forgot how they got there.
    Reply
  • 0ldman - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    This stunt of disabling physx, which I don't use simply due to the driver being disabled, has cost them a customer, as well as a tech that recommends hardware to hundreds if not thousands of users.

    I was almost a 100% Nvidia shop until just recently, mostly due to being comfortable with their drivers, stability, compatibility, etc.

    AMD has knocked it out of the park in the past few years and Nvidia has completely dropped the ball. Their ego got larger than their customer base and they forgot how they got there.
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    how do you figure? the nvidia cards last gen were faster and if you didnt put an amd card in the box you have physx. The cards this gen are faster (just not by much) and they are the same price this time.

    Methinks you doth protest too much... or youre a liar.
    Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    Nvidia truly sucks. Unfortunetly their product is pretty good. Reply
  • Jediron - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    You think so ? I think GTX470/480 and Fermi suck.
    Nvidia is on the wrong road, with theri overpriced SLI chips. They should be giving it away for free, so that
    it open's up a bigger sale in videocards. Now this, with Physics. They are too greedy and if they continue on this path; i see a dead end at the horizon for them !
    Reply
  • HaleStones - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    Well that seals it for me. A company that acts like this does not have my best interest as a priority. Thus, it will not get my hard eared dollars. I'm going ATI on the next build. Adios nVidia! Reply
  • gojirasan - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    Has anyone uploaded the older driver anywhere? This is a perfect case for "information wants to be free". Once you let the cat out of the bag you are not supposed to be able to put it back in again, especially if you are a big evil corporation. I'm disappointed in the intertubes. Someone should upload a torrent for the older version of 257.15 to the pirate bay or something. It's real tricky of them that they kept the version number the same even though what they claimed to be doing was fixing a bug. Normally you would give the fixed version a new number. But that would have made it so much easier for people to find the hybrid driver version. Nvidia is clever but so evil. Reply
  • dingetje - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    plain and simple, nvidia is screwing people over. Reply
  • BoFox - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    http://www.ngohq.com/news/17896-nvidia-forceware-2... Reply
  • Soubriquet - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    I cant see that working well in the community.

    Their tendancy to contrive driver conflicts creates the situation where users cannot have the two main VGA manufacturers on the same machine.

    Since physics is not a big issue in games today and ATI have cooler cards PC builders are not necessarily going to choose nVidia, in fact this may well work against them since you dont want that kind of driver conflict going on with a new machine. By the time physics is an issue all this hardware will be completely out of date anyway.

    Like their expensive fat hot research oriented graphics cards nVidia are shooting at the wrong target again. It reminds me of the famous flopping folly of Sinclair.

    What were they thinking?
    Who is driving the bus?
    What are they smoking?
    Why are the shareholders letting them?
    Reply

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