This week, NVIDIA has announced that they are ending mainstream graphics driver support for Fermi-based GeForce GPUs. Effective as of this month (i.e. immediately), all Fermi products are being moved to legacy support status, meaning they will no longer receive Game Ready driver enhancements, performance optimizations, and bugfixes. Instead, they will only receive critical bugfixes through the end of the legacy support phase in January 2019.

While the announcement mentions ‘Fermi series GeForce GPUs,’ the actual support plan specifies that mainstream driver support is limited to Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal GPUs. So presumably all Fermi products are affected.

In the same vein, also effective this month is NVIDIA dropping mainstream driver support for 32-bit operating systems, as announced in December 2017. Like Fermi, 32-bit operating systems will still receive critical security updates through January 2019. This update also encompasses GeForce Experience, which will no longer receive software updates for Windows 32-bit operating systems.

Given the current drivers, March’s version 391.35 on the Release 390 branch, this likely means that the next branch is due to release later this month, and that it will simultaneously drop support for Fermi and 32-bit operating systems.


The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480

In context, NVIDIA’s previous architecture retirement came in March 2014, when their D3D10 Tesla architecture GPUs were moved to legacy status after around 8 years of support. And with this week’s announcement, Fermi has received mainstream support for around the same amount of time, marking the beginning of the end for NVIDIA's first D3D11-class GPU architecture.

However it's interesting to note that Fermi's legacy support window will end up being a lot shorter than Tesla's, stretching for just ten months versus two years for Tesla's. This may be a distinction that proves important, as complex and highly privileged video drivers have been an ongoing source of security vulnerabilities - including as recently as this year in NVIDIA's case. So while the vast majority of Fermi cards have been retired, for any that remain (particularly those in Internet-connected machines) the end of security updates is not a trivial matter.

In comparison, AMD’s GPUs contemporaneous to Fermi were moved to legacy status in 2015, with all pre-Graphics Core Next architectures affected. On AMD’s side, retiring pre-GCN products meant that all their supported GPUs were DX12 capable.

For NVIDIA’s Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal architectures, Fermi was the only one not immediately supported, though the current state of DX12 on Fermi is somewhat unclear. Last summer, NVIDIA’s drivers appeared to quietly enable it, and Fermi products are listed as DX12 supported GPUs, but NVIDIA’s DX12 GPU support page still notes Fermi support is pending. But in any case, this puts the focus on D3D12 supported GPUs, comparable to how NVIDIA’s 2014 retirement of D3D10 GPUs meant retirement of all pre-D3D11 products

NVIDIA support has also posted a list of Fermi series GeForce GPUs affected by this change.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • Dragonstongue - Saturday, April 07, 2018 - link

    back when they made "full fat" cards and still used underspec component selection like they currently do on the Vreg and capacitors, even then they did not give full DX11/12 support ^.^
    (super high temperatures because of messy amp/volts)

    I have had my 7870 since about 4 months after launch which wa in 2013, still running perfect to this day, there is the difference between "quality" and "speed" when it comes to AMD and Nvidia.

    seems to me IMO the only thing Nv have gotten better at is chopping more away and emulating where they can to keep thermals/power use (average) in check and ramping clock speeds up vs building a better product over the years, same crappy capacitor/Vreg selections etc, they seem to use the "minimum" grade selection on components vs higher than needed.

    I stick with Radeon for many reasons, even if they do not run mach 2 speeds at least they do not emulate things that end up looking "crappy" to my eyes and do what they are able to do via the hardware alone.

    anyways ^.^
    Reply
  • eddman - Sunday, April 08, 2018 - link

    "emulate"? What are you on about? Reply
  • OrbitingCow - Sunday, April 08, 2018 - link

    @Dragonstongue

    Strange post to be honest. You are advocating AMD because of some random cap thing you have going that basically does nothing, while saying that Gameworks, Physx, Ansel, OpenGL, and everything else Nvidia does better does not matter?

    That seems pretty crazy to me. I like AMD CPUs these days, but their GPUs no thanks. Nvidia has way too many QoL things no gamer can ignore outright if you ask me. No way I am playing games like Witcher 3 and all the rest of them without Nvidia cards.
    Reply
  • Hurr Durr - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    People not right in the head are a significant chunk of AMD userbase, what do you want. Reply
  • RSAUser - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    I am an AMD user since the R9 290X was a great deal, still runs near everything at max 1080p.
    Price/performance is still my most important metric (performance I include power usage and noise). Using the Chill feature is what makes me like it more than my 1060 machine.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    Well done, you managed to make this section of the comment thread stupider than it was with just the AMD fanboy fanboying. Reply
  • Marburg U - Sunday, April 08, 2018 - link

    Unfortunately nVidia bricked my GTX 460 on march 2016 with their 364.72 WHQL-certified drivers. That was quite a thing....

    Still using a gtx 540m on a sandy bridge laptop, and i won't retire it for quite some time.
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Sunday, April 08, 2018 - link

    DanNeely knows of what he speaks. Reply
  • HollyDOL - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    It was about time to let it go...

    While certain backward compatibility is nice I can't wait to see a day when no NEW apps are released as 32bit (looking especially at games and visual studio (with resharper) hitting 2/2 or 3/1 RAM limit more and more often). Spend too much on backward compatibility and you won't have anything left to move forward.
    Reply
  • James5mith - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    According to the latest Steam Survey, this affects less than 2% of users in the Windows space. (The discontinuing of 32-bit support.)

    Good riddance to 32-bit OS support. It should have died nearly a decade ago when all hardware was 64-bit capable, and WoW was already pretty much solidified and fully functional.
    Reply

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