It would appear that on top of everything else going on this week, this is also a big week for video drivers. Following AMD’s major release of Catalyst 12.11 earlier this week, NVIDIA has their own driver release this week with the release of their 310.33 beta drivers. These drivers are the first public release of the previously announced R310 family, making this the 4th major driver family release for NVIDIA this year (R295, R300, R304, R310).

From a feature standpoint these drivers won’t offer a big change for most end users right away, but Windows 8 users will be in for a treat. Thanks to Windows 8’s new stereoscopic 3D functionality, these drivers add windowed S3D support for a multitude of applications and games, including YouTube 3D, various Blu-Ray players, and all DX9 games. Meanwhile developers will want to play close attention to these drivers for new API functionality they expose. These are the first drivers to support OpenGL 4.3, which among other things means this is the first GeForce driver set to have support for new features such as OpenGL compute shaders, along with full OpenGL ES 3.0 superset functionality. As for CUDA developers these are the first GeForce drivers that will support the recently released CUDA 5.

Feature additions aside, for most users the biggest benefit these drivers will bring will be performance improvements, bug fixes, and new game profiles, and like any new NVIDIA driver branch 310.33 comes with a mix of all of those. On the performance side of things NVIDIA is claiming that these drivers offer notable performance improvements for GeForce 600 users in Skyrim, Starcraft II, and Batman: Arkham City, among other games. Interesting the former two tend to be quite CPU limited (and Batman isn’t far behind), so it’s not where we’d typically expect to see significant performance improvements. We haven’t had a chance to test these drivers, but NVIDIA’s own performance analysis is available over at GeForce.com. Going by NVIDIA’s numbers this isn’t going to be the kind of major performance boost that AMD’s Catalyst 12.11 was – and we weren’t expecting it to be – but it’s a decent performance boost all the same.

As for bug fixes and profile improvements, the most notable change is the return of MSAA support for Diablo III.  Otherwise it’s a fairly typical (and extensive) collection of profile updates, including an updated SLI profile for DiRT: Showdown and an updated Ambient Occlusion profile for CS:GO.


GeForce 6800 Ultra: April 2004 - October 2012

Finally, with these drivers we’ll be bidding adieu to support for the last of NVIDIA’s DirectX 9 GPUs. As previously announced by NVIIDA, starting with R310 NVIDIA is formally moving the GeForce 6 and 7 series to legacy status. NVIDIA retired their earlier NV30 architecture based GeForce 5 FX series relatively quickly with R175 back in 2008, but they have supported the newer and far more successful NV40 based 6 and 7 series for much longer. By our count it has been nearly 8 years since the first of those cards was released and 5 years since the last, marking the end of what has been the longest support cycle for consumer GPUs that we have yet to see. We’re still waiting to get confirmation from NVIDIA about what legacy status entails in this case – whether it means reduced driver updates (ala AMD HD 2000-4000) or a complete end to driver updates – but given how long NVIDIA has supported these cards it’s likely the latter.

Starting with R310 NVIDIA’s minimum supported hardware will be the GeForce 8 series. If NVIDIA’s DX9 GPU support is anything to go by, then considering the slower pace of upgrades in recent years and just how long NVIDIA has sold GeForce 8 GPUs – particularly G92 – we wouldn’t be surprised to see them support their DX10 GPUs for as long as or longer than they did their DX9 GPUs.

Source: NVIDIA (Driver Download)

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  • Urizane - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    In reality, driver problems are overblown on both sides. Everybody I've seen posting about driver issues have a small number of cards and systems that cause them to have a bias one way or the other (including some poor souls that have constant RMAs involving cards running in one system...and they can't take the hint). I have two Nvidia cards myself, a buddy of mine has two Nvidia cards, a different buddy has an AMD card, and between two cousins there are three more AMD cards. Nobody is having driver issues in this larger (yet still small) sample set. There have been some under-the-hood minor tweaks that weren't available on the AMD side (such as per-game multi-GPU settings, or per-game settings of any kind until recently), but stability isn't really an issue. Reply
  • Senti - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    This 310 looks nice compared to the totally buggy 30x series. For example EDID override works again.

    On the other hand, some ugly bugs are still there, like bluescreen on OpenGL fullscreen with custom resolutions.
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    The great turnaround with OpenCL 4.3 support is great. But what about OpenCL 1.2 support?I guess nVidia wants to continue keeping their focus on CUDA as long as possible by withholding OpenCL 1.2 support as long as possible. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    Go buy an amd card, that's probably all they are up to is opencl 1.2 - LOL It's probably what amd was screaming about with it's insane fan boys, and it's all they have, save a weak and partial 2.0, right ? LOL
    go amd man, you'll be happy with 1.2 and like Tweety makes Flowerpots for your game.
    Reply
  • TheElMoIsEviL - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    Dude... do you realize that you're not making any sense?

    "go amd man, you'll be happy with 1.2 and like Tweety makes Flowerpots for your game. "

    Now WTF do you mean by "Tweety makes Flowerpots"? What is that? Like what are you trying to say?

    Seriously this but job has been posting here for a long time and most of his posts make no sense whatsoever???
    Reply
  • TheElMoIsEviL - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    nut* Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    Another amd fanboy who, like other LOSERS "cannot understand".
    Post lobotomy, at least your skull tiny shrunken skull is smiling, as ignorance is, no doubt for amd fanboys, bliss.
    Reply
  • TheElMoIsEviL - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    Well my friend... I'm convinced now. You have clearly demonstrated to us all that you couldn't possibly be a Schizophrenic nut. I mean Schizophrenic nuts would never make this much sense:

    "like other LOSERS "cannot understand".
    Post lobotomy, at least your skull tiny shrunken skull is smiling"

    Yes yes... we all *totally* get what you mean by this.

    :p
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I don't want to hear about beta drivers. Their latest full release driver doesn't work in a VERY big way. It makes Power Director (video editing program) completely unusable. I had to go back to 301.42 in order to get everything working again. I'm glad that's all I had to do but it sucks because of the performance/compatibility enhancements in newer drivers.

    Hopefully next time they release a stable driver it will work with PowerDirector so I can upgrade. Then hopefully each subsequent upgrade words so I can upgrade more than once/year.
    Reply
  • Rookierookie - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    " If NVIDIA’s DX9 GPU support is anything to go by..."

    I'm still not convinced that Nvidia ever released a DX9 GPU.
    Reply

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