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.