NVIDIA to unify desktop and notebook driver releases

NVIDIA announced that they are starting a new initiative to merge driver releases for desktops and notebooks with their Verde program. Starting with the 256 ‘Fermi’ series of cards, all future driver releases will be universally compatible. This should come as great news to many notebook users who have been left behind with older driver versions, and often had to go through their notebook manufacturers for officially compatible releases.

While gamers are certainly going to benefit from this, it is also good news for those who want utilize programs that incorporate CUDA enabled performance enhancements. NVIDIA's 197 series driver will also enable utilization of 3D displays, and offer significant performance boosts for various games and applications.

It is important to note that there are a few strings attached with this new approach. These releases will be compatible with notebooks which feature only discrete solutions and NVIDIA branded integrated graphics. Hot Hardware said, “Notebooks with discrete GPUs, hybrid solutions that feature NVIDIA IGPs, and Optimus enabled notebooks will be compatible. Notebooks with multi-vendor hybrid solutions, i.e. those with integrated Intel graphics and discrete NVIDIA graphics, will not be supported.”

Feature parity between the driver sets is a welcome change, but lack of support for hybrid solutions puts a damper on the impact of this move since a large number of notebooks feature multi-vendor GPUs. Key examples of these types of machines include the Alienware M11x and Apple’s complete line-up of MacBook Pros.

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40 Comments

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I'm in favor of unifying all drivers. This way, people like who deals with lots of different computers just need to keep a single release up to date, and not waste time tracking down all the single driver updates.

197.45 did this, after more than a year of no new drivers I was able to update my GeForce 7300 Go with the driver from MS Update Catalog (nv_whql.inf)

Nvidia seriously needs to fix playback bugs with the latest builds.
Laggy video is not something that should happen when using DXVA / CUDA.

Udedenkz said,
Nvidia seriously needs to fix playback bugs with the latest builds.
Laggy video is not something that should happen when using DXVA / CUDA.

It doesn't happen.

I don't really care if hard drives are getting bigger, it's a load of crap that drivers are this huge. Do they really need half the stuff they shove in there? I still have the driver disk for my Rage 128 Pro card, the Windows XP drivers were a whopping 8 MB.

"Notebooks with multi-vendor hybrid solutions, i.e. those with integrated Intel graphics and discrete NVIDIA graphics, will not be supported.”

In my mind that would INCLUDE "Optimus enabled notebooks".

Wow, I was excited about this until I saw they weren't going to support multi-vendor solutions. So my shiny new macbook pro is sol. Thanks nVidia! That's a pretty douchebag move, especially considering in Windows 7 on the new macbook pros, you're "only" using the nvidia gpu.

IceBreakerG said,
Wow, I was excited about this until I saw they weren't going to support multi-vendor solutions. So my shiny new macbook pro is sol. Thanks nVidia! That's a pretty douchebag move, especially considering in Windows 7 on the new macbook pros, you're "only" using the nvidia gpu.

Not really nVidia's fault. They can't control Intel's integrated GPU, nor can they be expected to write the drivers for every different vendors methods of handling these hybrid solutions

Sraf said,

Not really nVidia's fault. They can't control Intel's integrated GPU, nor can they be expected to write the drivers for every different vendors methods of handling these hybrid solutions

The problem with that is that they wouldn't even have to touch the Intel chip because it's not in use, only the nvidia gpu is. Not to mention they wrote the drivers that's included in the bootcamp install as well. It's not really that hard to add the device id to the installer's INF file, but I guess I'll have to resort to going to laptopvideo2go. Thought I was past that since I had to do that with my Dell Inspiron 9300 (had a GeForce 6800 in it).

IceBreakerG said,

The problem with that is that they wouldn't even have to touch the Intel chip because it's not in use, only the nvidia gpu is. Not to mention they wrote the drivers that's included in the bootcamp install as well. It's not really that hard to add the device id to the installer's INF file, but I guess I'll have to resort to going to laptopvideo2go. Thought I was past that since I had to do that with my Dell Inspiron 9300 (had a GeForce 6800 in it).

nVidia would still have to contend with switching off their driver when some third party driver tells them that the GPU is no longer needed, and someone would have to write the driver that does the switching procedures. On your MBP, the party responsible for that function would be Apple, not nVidia

That's true, however, there is no video switching. It's "only" the nvidia card, which means they don't have to switch anything off because the GT 330M is the only gpu that can be used.

The weird thing though, I read someone extracted the bootcamp drivers then tried to run the nivdia set up manually from it, and it gave the exact same error that getting the drivers from their site gave (about there being no compatible hardware available).

IntelliMoo said,
good gawd why not add potential to muck things up in each release even more. LOL
You don't have to update. Besides, would hundreds of individually updated packages really be better?

Kirkburn said,
You don't have to update. Besides, would hundreds of individually updated packages really be better?
Exactly. Multiple drivers that each need to be maintained doesn't exactly make life easier you know or guarantee they wont mess up.

Majesticmerc said,
What, because a 150MiB download wasn't enough?
somebody had to complain! I don't see the problem, it's a small (!) price to pay for uniformity (something notebook owners will really appreciate, I know I do). Unless your on dial-up the added size won't exactly kills you anyway (I expect these new drivers to weight in over 200Mb+).

Edited by Xerxes, Apr 26 2010, 11:58pm :

Majesticmerc said,
What, because a 150MiB download wasn't enough?

He really has a point here. For a driver download, it's HUGE. At least they should ASK before downloading if I need the 3D Vision stuff, or the Physics drivers...

kiwi89 said,
wow. I didn't realize how big those drivers were getting. The ati drivers aren't nearly that size.

Nvidia latest Win7 x64 WHQL = 117MB
ATI latest Win7 x64 = 71.6MB
ATI with Eyefinity Win7 x64 = 113MB

Lets not get crazy here...

xendrome said,

Nvidia latest Win7 x64 WHQL = 117MB
ATI latest Win7 x64 = 71.6MB
ATI with Eyefinity Win7 x64 = 113MB

Lets not get crazy here...

So what if they are getting bigger so is the size or the hard drives and the speed of are internet connections getting faster as well.

kiwi89 said,
wow. I didn't realize how big those drivers were getting. The ati drivers aren't nearly that size.

ATI drivers don't have PhysX in them now do they? Plenty of reasons for the Nvidia drivers to be that size, nothing amazing about the size difference.

Majesticmerc said,
What, because a 150MiB download wasn't enough?

I wonder what's in them. I mean, in compressed form, 50 MB of pure code is completely enormous. As a software developer, it's even hard to imagine. The Windows 7 Kernel DLL is 1.1 MB. The Windows 7 Shell DLL is 13.5 MB. In uncompressed form. Our flagship product with dozens of major customers across our country is around 10 MB in compiled, uncompressed, code size.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 27 2010, 8:15am :

Majesticmerc said,
What, because a 150MiB download wasn't enough?

Fortunately it only requires to modify the inf file to install nvidia desktop drivers on the laptop

Majesticmerc said,
What, because a 150MiB download wasn't enough?

If they would only ship drivers and not all the other crap with it...

Xerxes said,
somebody had to complain! I don't see the problem, it's a small (!) price to pay for uniformity (something notebook owners will really appreciate, I know I do). Unless your on dial-up the added size won't exactly kills you anyway (I expect these new drivers to weight in over 200Mb+).

The file size isn't really what bothers me, I can get the latest release drivers in minutes, its the wonder of why MY driver needs all the compatibility crap? I know what my graphics card is!

There should be a "build your own" feature or something. I own a 2D display thats incapable of 3D, so why do I need a stereoscopic 3D driver that I can't use? I only have a single GPU, so why do I need the 40MB PhysX driver that again, will never get used.

Sure, provide a monolithic driver for those that don't know any better, but it would be nice to be able to "brew your own driver", or something like that, that specializes for your GPU.

Majesticmerc said,
There should be a "build your own" feature or something. I own a 2D display thats incapable of 3D, so why do I need a stereoscopic 3D driver that I can't use? I only have a single GPU, so why do I need the 40MB PhysX driver that again, will never get used.
You don't need a 3D display for the stereoscopic driver.
You don't need multiple cards for the PhysX driver.

Northgrove said,

I wonder what's in them. I mean, in compressed form, 50 MB of pure code is completely enormous. As a software developer, it's even hard to imagine. The Windows 7 Kernel DLL is 1.1 MB. The Windows 7 Shell DLL is 13.5 MB. In uncompressed form. Our flagship product with dozens of major customers across our country is around 10 MB in compiled, uncompressed, code size.

The Physx software and NVIDIA control panel software make up a lot of it, but I believe that part of the universal driver is also support for the HD Audio that all in one motherboards support, which are also a part of the NVIDIA software package.