Firstly GeForce 7800 is NV47, not NV50. NV50 series is GF8 and up. All cards that get dropped from driver support now are in the NV4x range.
Second: we (Nouveau) got a new gallium driver for the NV3x and NV4x range of cards, which is a great improvement over the old driver. It passes far more of the Piglit OpenGL conformance tests and provides far better performance. You can get it in Mesa git or Mesa 8.1/9.0 whatever it will be called, once it gets released.
I would be interested to see how many people still have this (and other hardware like old CPUs) going. My 6600GT conked out 2 years ago along with my friend's one. I'm on a 4850 (grrr..) and my friend has a 9800GTX.
I still have 6800GT... And it sucks (like all nVidia GPUs!). AMD FTW!
I'm getting very close to giving up on Nvidia completely. I've always used them on desktops especially because of the good driver support. On laptops I've stuck with Intel because of poor Nvidia driver support. (In the olden days you had to get your drivers from the laptop vendor, and then there has been the whole Optimus thing.)
I'm currently on an 8 series chipset on my desktop, and have never upgraded because it is impossible to tell if newer chipsets are actually any better. Nvidia pulled various stunts like renaming existing chipset series, and generally having so many models and numbers that you really couldn't work out anything. If I saw that a particular card used half the power and was 7 times as fast then I could make a rational decision. But when I have to work out that the 2 series is just a renamed 9 series then I give up.
And now they have messed up on the desktop. If you have an Nvidia card on Ubuntu precise then chances are your desktop crashes - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...rs/+bug/973096 - and Noveau doesn't work well. Following one of those comments I was able to lock my drivers to an older version. It doesn't look like there is any reason for my next desktop upgrade to include Nvidia graphics. And having driver issues is likely going to cause me to upgrade sooner rather than later.
I do have an Android tablet with Tegra 1 SOC. Nvidia's closed attitude there means I'm predisposed against them for future Android purchases. (Qualcomm have similar issues.) From what I've read TI & OMAP actually have a clue on what open means and try to work with their users rather than against them.
Nvidia has been behind thousands of dollars of my purchases over the years (I don't know what proportion they got). However on the current trajectory they will get zero for the foreseeable future.
I had an nv9600 and recently got a GTX560 HoN fps went from 20fps to locked at 60fps and everything on high (and water on extra high - something that would grind my old card down). so yes newer cards do bring improvements. Whether you notice it if you go within a range is subjectable but I have gone nv6xxx -> nv9xxx -> nv5xx and each time I have experienced significant improvement in fps
I don't understand the outrage. These GPUs are old and Nvidia will still continue to support them for some time to spare. In the past they've done a good job of supporting legacy GPUs. Unlike, you know, AMD.
GeForce 6/7 are the last cards with native agp port. Maybe they do not want to support agp anymore. As long as there is still a legacy branch it is not that hard to use em if needed but certainly newer systems with pci-e are much easier to upgrade. Just a matter of time till agp systems are replaced - you can not get newer gpus for serveral years now when you forget about some weird newer amd cards with agp ports. I could live with a new legacy driver as no changes for vdpau or so which are more often fixed affect those cards. The older fx 5 series was most likely dropped much earlier as it seems they did not support reduced blanking compared to geforce 6/7. That means you are stuck with a max res of 1680x1050 via dvi with those cards anyway. Gf 6 cards are the first which could be used for full hd displays.
so if you call that support you cant say that amd dont support this old grafics drivers, too, they make something similar with this gpus.
But for most peoply legacy support sucks. So the only real alternative (in my opinion the better alternative than the blob) is free driver support, and here wins amd (or intel).
The point is nvidia has no real alternativ for their main drivers, as example when the older drivers dont work with features needed for doing something useful you have no real alternative. Ok there is nouvou, but thats there not because of nvidia but despite of nvidia.
So if you look what was till now legacy it was geforce 4 series and that was the direct concurent to radeon 8000 series. So yes TODAY thats really really old, but on the day that did go legacy it wasnt that old. So at least what a little bit of googling did say, this legacy driver for nvidia that you have to use for this series does not support till today texture_for_pixmap something you need to use a modern 3d-desktop yes there was xgl but thats a really bad hack.
With the radeon 8000 series there is support there since then ( I dont know maybe you had to wait 6 months longer then support where there for the newer grafics drivers but I dont think so) because amd supports the free drivers.
So think of it, I dont know whats the next big feature is in Xorg, as example maybe 3d support? (I dont care about that but that was what I could think of spontanious) you will then not get this feature for you new card.
And its even worse not even if your card is supported by nvidia you get all the current X features like kms as example and its far from bugfree, yes the nvidia closed drivers are not that bad, but still the free drivers are really stable nearly un-crashable, can you say that about the nvidia blob NO.
So you can be happy with your nvidia card and you are maybe glad to buy each 3-5 years a new card. But stop saying that on amds side the support for older cards is on the same level or even worse, because thats just not true.
So if people gets frustrated about nvidia let them be frustrated its not unrational to be frustrated about the nvidia driver policys. If you dont care about freedom AND only want to use your grafics card for lets say 5 years (if you buy the last of a generation (last dx9 card as example) it can also be shorter period, nvidia is maybe ok for you. If you like some people seems to do use such hardware longer or want to, they are definatly better pleased to buy intel or amd gpus.
I don't think this is about AGP, but about these old cards simply not being capable of things. I recall seeing in the changelogs of the 300 series, a few items mentioned as being only for G80 and up.
And at least for old desktops, Zotac makes PCI cards with modern Nvidia GPUs. They're low-end (the current is GT610 PCI), but hey VDPAU . Laptops are another thing, though mine has an MXM module, so the 6600 is an actual *card* that you can take out and replace.