In a note on their support website published earlier this afternoon, NVIDIA has announced that they are preparing to move their mobile (laptop) Kepler GPUs to legacy status, ending mainstream graphics driver support for these products. Starting in April 2019, mobile Kepler products will become legacy products, meaning they will no longer receive Game Ready driver enhancements, performance optimizations, and bugfixes. However, they will continue to receive critical security updates through the end of the legacy support phase, which is set to run through April of 2020.

As NVIDIA continues to produce new GPU architectures on a roughly two-year cadence, the shuffle off to legacy status has become a relatively regular event for the company. However this latest retirement is quite a bit different in that NVIDIA is only retiring their mobile Kepler parts, and not their desktop parts. Previously, legacy retirements involved the whole architecture at once, as it would allow NVIDIA to neatly wrap-up all driver development in a single go. Instead, as NVIDIA’s document even takes specific care to note, desktop Kepler parts are not part of this retirement and will continue to receive full support for the time being.

Past that, as NVIDIA tends to be a heavy data-driven company, I can only speculate that they believe Kepler laptop ownership/usage is low enough at this point that even retiring just Kepler laptop support would be beneficial for the company. By dropping ongoing “game ready” support for their mobile products, it means that NVIDIA no longer needs to regression test new drivers against these parts, even if they continue to develop optimizations and bug fixes for the Kepler architecture itself.

That said, I am a bit surprised by how quickly this has come. Though introduced before Kepler, it was really only with Kepler that NVIDIA’s Optimus switchable graphics technology took off, and as a result seeing an additional NVIDIA GPU in a higher-end thin & light notebook became a more common occurrence that still continues to this day. For reference, NVIDIA only moved its previous Fermi-generation products to legacy status last April, so this is marks a shorter gap for the much more popular mobile Kepler.

At any rate, NVIDIA’s current release doesn’t state what the final driver branch will be. So it’s not clear if the current R418 branch is it – and the branch after it will drop mobile Kepler – or if it’s going to be the next branch that’s the last. It does become a small but notable distinction, since NVIDIA will need to provide further security updates for that branch for another year.

In the meantime, you can find a complete list of mobile Kepler products over at NVIDIA’s site. The list is rather extensive – along with the 600M series, Kepler parts were also used as part of the 700M, 800M, and even some 900M parts. So some of the products that are set to be retired are relatively recent, numerically speaking.

Update: Another NVIDIA support article about legacy products has surfaced, this time regarding NVIDIA’s 3D Vision products. Alongside mobile Kepler support, NVIDIA will also be sunsetting 3D Vision starting next month. Like mobile Kepler, these products will be moving to legacy status, and will receive one year of critical driver support through April 2020.

Unlike NVIDIA’s mobile Kepler note, their 3D Vision note does specify the final driver branch. It looks like the current R418 driver branch is it for 3D Vision, mobile Kepler, and whatever else NVIDIA decides to retire next month. All of which is a potential sign that the branch following R418 will incorporate significant driver and feature updates, since NVIDIA will get a clean(ish) break and won’t need to roll them out to their oldest products.

As for NVIDIA’s 3D Vision products, NVIDIA hasn't launched a new version of the technology since 3D Vision 2 in 2011. And while NVIDIA has continued to support 3D Vision for over a decade now, the writing was clearly on the wall for these products after the first generation of VR headsets launched. Even ignoring their VR-specific aspects for a moment, the VR headsets also offer a superior 3D stereo experience due to their completely isolated eyes, eliminating ghost images meant for the other eye. Contrast is also better, since there’s no need to block out an eye.

Still, it’s the end of an era for sure, as shutter glasses-based 3D stereo products are (once again) on their way out.

Source: NVIDIA (via SH SOTN)

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  • KaarlisK - Friday, March 8, 2019 - link

    This does seem a bit crazy considering I can buy a new laptop featuring an MX130 even now. Reply
  • KateH - Saturday, March 9, 2019 - link

    MX130 is Maxwell, so that's still supported for now. Reply
  • KaarlisK - Saturday, March 9, 2019 - link

    Whoops. Then it isn't as bad. Still irritating that even Nvidia doesn't support (some of) their mobile GPUs for longer than ~2 years. That used to be Intel's approach.
    The MX130 was released in Nov 17 so that's about when mobile Kepler (920M) was completely discontinued in new notebooks. Though yes, the bulk of mobile Kepler was replaced by Maxwell in 2015, so for most people it's 4+ years of support.
    If I didn't mess something up again, that is.
    Kepler: released in 2012, discontinued in 2017, unsupported in 2020
    Fermi: released in mid-2010, discontinued in 2015, unsupported in 2019
    Reply
  • theuglyman0war - Saturday, March 9, 2019 - link

    3dvision gaming is literally the only thing that keeps me interested in gaming. Community driven fixes/solutions had me happy till now. between 3d migato/Helix and Hayden Flawless WSGF communities... ( active shudder hardware solution is the only reason I choose nvidia over AMD... Though I am sure big data research has no way of revealing how much market share they are actually losing )

    I now have to scramble to build a new 3d vision qhd surround 3dvision 2 setup before the end.
    As an artists looks like my immersive interactive experiences not requiring a heavy HMD will be worlds/environments that I create develop for myself. very sad. very very sad. my whole realtime graphic interest has just changed from a gaming interest to an artistic pursuit.
    I have two eyes and two ears I have zero interest in listening to music in mono or gaming in 2d like a depth challenged cyclops! A big step backwards for desktop graphics fidelity.

    my stereoscopic solution will be sated 100% with heavy low resolution HMD strapped/tethered experiences? Phhphhht!

    I have been furious that for the past 10 years there was no non quadro stereoscopic option for creating assets in Maya respecting stereoscopic concerns at all stages of dcc interactivity.

    Lightweight glasses ( comparatively ) to refer to stereoscopic integrity when creating is easily the more viable solution compared to strapping a screen to my face.
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Monday, March 11, 2019 - link

    I heard they're deprecating stereo from sound output too, because kids nowadays only listen to one earbud ;)

    Searching around, I found something worrying: one of the people desperately searching for a 3D screen was in the medical field. If this stuff helped people interpret MRI scans and suchlike then that's a big loss.

    Seriously thinking about rolling my own solution. Either two identical monitors and mirrors on glasses to converge them, or perhaps getting a silvered reflective screen and trying 2x polarised projectors (I have one already). They have this semi-working at work too. Have modified my software to give a variety of outputs - side-by-side on two screens for example - and even red/blue old-style 3D - for flexibility.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Saturday, March 9, 2019 - link

    One more reason to go to Linux for older hardware. Unfortunately, given NVIDIA, it might take enough time that it's out of support on Windows to have anywhere near close to full support on Linux . . . Reply
  • InvidiousIgnoramus - Sunday, March 10, 2019 - link

    Frankly, I had already assumed they were under legacy support. I haven't been able to get the latest driver to install on my gt730m laptop at all. Reply
  • lightningz71 - Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - link

    This announcement is somewhat odd to me. They are essentially ending support for all the GK1XX series chips IN MOBILE FORMAT ONLY. There are MANY boards that use the GK1XX chips, the VERY same ones that are in these mobile units, well up the GT/GTX 7XX series, including the GTX Titan. I suspect that newer drivers are going to be abandoning some of the power management techniques that were used in the GK1XX series in the mobile space in favor of increased performance. I also suspect that there will be an announcement of the moving of much of the GT/GTX 7XX line (save for the 745/750/750ti, which were maxwell chips) into legacy status shortly to finish off the Kepler line completely. Reply

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