First Windows 8 driver update from NVIDIA released

People who have downloaded and installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on their PCs and have graphics cards made by NVIDIA have been waiting for graphics drivers made specifically for Microsoft's latest OS. Today, NVIDIA announced that it has launched the first such Windows 8 graphics card update for its GeForce and Quadro graphics cards.

The drivers, which have the version number 296.17, can be downloaded from NVIDIA's web site. More information about those drivers can be read in the release notes. NVIDIA states:

NVIDIA’s Windows 8 drivers support all the features of the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) v1.2, as well as award-winning NVIDIA 3D Vision and 3DTV Play products, allowing you to play more than 600 games, watch Blu-ray movies and view photos – all in 3D. With Windows 8’s new built-in stereoscopic 3D support in DirectX 11, 3D Vision is poised to provide users the best platform for games and applications.

For those of you who are still using Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows Vista, there is a new but separate driver release, version 296.10, that is now available to download as well. These new drivers should be of particular interest to PC gamers with GeForce graphics cards; NVIDIA states that the graphics performance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been increased by up to 45 percent in this new driver update.

Mass Effect 3 gamers with NVIDIA SLI set-ups in their PC should see up to twice the performance while playing that game. There are also some added GeForce exclusive ambient occlusion graphics added in this driver release for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Diablo III, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

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The article above states "NVIDIA states that the graphics performance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been increased by up to 45 percent in this new driver update."

When in fact the release notes for 296 state:

"New features and performance since R285 WHQL-certified driver
•Game-changing performance boost of up to 45% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, “the fastest selling title in Steam's history”"

The 45% gain is from this latest release, seems like the article is giving the impression that if somebody installs 296 they will get a 45% performance increase, which is not entirely true. (If they are running something earlier than 285, they will notice a difference.

The article above states "


New in Release 296.10

•Adds support for the new GeForce GTX 560 SE GPU.
•Updates PhysX System Software to version 9.12.0213.
•Boosts SLI performance in the following games:
◦Blacklight: Retribution - up to 1.8x performance increase
◦DiRT 3 - updated DX11 profile to improve menu performance
◦Dishonored
◦Dungeon Defenders
◦F1 2011 - improves performance with game patch 1.2
◦rFactor 2
•Adds 3D Vision support for the following games:
◦Dear Esther - Rated Good
◦Deep Black: Reloaded - Rated 3D Vision Ready
•Includes numerous bug fixes. Refer to the release notes documentation for more details.
Highlight Summary for the R295 Family of Drivers

New features and performance since R285 WHQL-certified driver
•Game-changing performance boost of up to 45% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, “the fastest selling title in Steam's history”
•Up to 2x performance Mass Effect 3 with SLI technology.
•GeForce-exclusive quality enhancements with ambient occlusion support for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Diablo III, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
•New 3D Vision and SLI profiles for over 50 titles.
•New PhysX software for the best experience in top PhysX titles like Alice: Madness Returns and Batman: Arkham City.
•Enables WHQL-certified support for NVIDIA Surround on Intel X79 SLI-certified motherboards.
•Updates HD Audio to version 1.3.12.0.

For some reason this release has created a latency problem and a few BSODs on my Win8 machine. Kinda annoying.

Wow, Windows 8 has inherent 3D support and new video technologies?

Weird, all the crazies and the articles only talk about it being used on tablets. Weird that a desktop user would benefit from a Windows 8 video feature of the new WDM 1.2.

/s

CUBBYJR2005 said,
um guys this driver been out for a while I already had it on my computer when I install windows 8 beta.

It has only been available for about a week at the most. At the Consumer Preview launch, the only option was the provided WDM 1.2 driver from Microsoft based on an August NVidia driver.

The WDM 1.2 version that is now showing up at NVIdia and on the Windows 8 Update is new, and slightly different than the Windows 7 version that was still only WDM 1.1, that was an official NVidia release a few weeks ago.

Anyone else get an error trying to get that update to install? It keeps failing on my machine....and I have an nVidia card.

This driver was much needed, to my disappointment I was having all kinds of issues playing Aion using the Win 7 driver (which people claimed worked fine). This new driver has fixed all of those and performance feels pretty much identical to on Win 7 now.

"Skyrim has been increased by up to 45 percent in this new driver update" I wouldn't say I am seeing that... then again I've installed every high def mod known to skyrim.

Tuishimi said,
"Skyrim has been increased by up to 45 percent in this new driver update" I wouldn't say I am seeing that... then again I've installed every high def mod known to skyrim.

read the driver release notes, it states specific gains with specific cards, resolutions, operating systems, etc. usually the biggest gains come with a specific card at specific settings or SLI

it is good to see them working on it early.

unlike Vista day which we had to suck up with horrible driver for 7 month after RTM!!!

Might be that because Win 7 & 8 in the same generation.

Ci7 said,
it is good to see them working on it early.

unlike Vista day which we had to suck up with horrible driver for 7 month after RTM!!!

Ci7 said,
it is good to see them working on it early.

unlike Vista day which we had to suck up with horrible driver for 7 month after RTM!!!

Probably minimal changes from the Win 7 drivers!

Ci7 said,
it is good to see them working on it early.

unlike Vista day which we had to suck up with horrible driver for 7 month after RTM!!!


Vista's display driver model was significantly different from XP's, that's why it took them so long. Vista was the first time where graphics memory was used for the desktop, and thus, graphics memory had to be virtualized.

FalseAgent said,

Vista's display driver model was significantly different from XP's, that's why it took them so long. Vista was the first time where graphics memory was used for the desktop, and thus, graphics memory had to be virtualized.

hope they were lazy at that time

otherwise history would repeat itself with WDDM2.x (when ever that come out, windows 9/10)

FalseAgent said,

Vista's display driver model was significantly different from XP's, that's why it took them so long. Vista was the first time where graphics memory was used for the desktop, and thus, graphics memory had to be virtualized.

It was significantly different, in fact it was 'entirely' different, which required a complete rewrite of drivers from the ground up.

However it wasn't 'for' the desktop graphics memory.

Aero is a 'result' of the WDDM technology changes, but WDDM was designed before Aero as it is about several video and GPU technologies that go back to the early development of the XBox 360 team in 2002, 2003.

Features of the WDDM are what the XBox uses for OS GPU scheduling, and RAM sharing, in addition to new DMA technologies and I/O-Bus transfer technologies.

They needed a way to get video memory around faster, make it more flexible, and not leave the application in control of the GPU.

So WDM 1.0 WDDM was born, which confused the hell out of NVidia and ATI. Which is funny, as ATI has just gotten done helping fabricate the XBox 360 GPU, but rejected the model at the time, as they thought the MS hardware engineers that designed it was making a mistake with the new DMA controller and the new unified shader model, which is why ATI didn't adopt the GPU technology for a year or two for their desktop products.

As for the quality of the drivers, both ATI and NVidia had no idea what they were doing as they didn't work on the XBox 360 drivers and these were NEW theoretical GPU concepts that had never been used before.

So they didn't understand the code and were still trying to use XP style optimizations that were no longer relevant.
(NVidia also messed things up with their WDDM protests to Microsoft as their hardware couldn't support the full features, which added a late game change to the WDM/WDDM a few months before Vista was released.)

So Vista released, drivers sucked, and didn't use the advantages of the new model to increase performance, as the theory was they should be 'faster' than XPDM. The June after Vista released, Microsoft took a 'hands on' control of driver development and sent teams to work with NVidia ATI Intel, and a few months later, around September, the resulting drivers were finally catching up to the XP driver speeds and for the first time, and starting to overtake them considerably on the 64bit version.

The drivers then kept getting better, and ironically some of the stuff NVidia and ATI learned also was added back to the XP drivers to keep them in line with the speed of the WDDM drivers for Vista and Windows 7.

Aero is great and does need the OS to manage the GPU threads and handle transparent VRAM writes from system RAM, but the core video model came before the composer technology of the desktop that is Aero.


...Side Note

Today Windows is still the only OS that inherently manages the GPU, meaning it has pre-emptive GPU scheduling, GPU RAM sharing, GPU virtualization, and GPU thread management that offers things normally associated with CPUs like SMP capabilities.

This is why a hard core 3D game that doesn't yield GPU time or 'locks' the 3D portion of the GPU, can run on the 3D Aero desktop just fine, as the OS is managing the GPU, not the game. It can even run side by side several other 3D games without a problem or needing the game to yield or share the GPU properly.

This lets Aero a 3D GPU utilizing UI run without ever locking or even a stutter no matter what other 3D GPU processes are happening, including and especially GP-GPU things like DirectComputer, CUDA, OpenCL, etc.

OS X and Linux don't have this luxury and depends on the application developers and the frameworks being used to play nice or yield.

When the world jumped to preemptive multitasking on the CPU, it was a no brainer, and beneficial, yet Windows Vista made this jump for GPUs and the rest of world doesn't seem to notice and have no plans to offer this in other OSes.

OS X and Linux would require so much recoding due to the inflexibility of the kernel and unix OS model it is reasonable why they aren't doing this, but still sad.

This is also where OS engineers would explain why NT has some really good choices in its kernel and object based OS model that allowed the WDDM be added rather easily, and integrate with the kernel and shift driver layers and roles around and create a new rendering path without breaking things, and still able to keep the older XPDM model in place without conflict.