It was just a month ago that NVIDIA had introduced the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix that brought PureVideo-like features to Linux and as our early benchmarks showed this video API did an effective job at offloading video-related tasks to the graphics card that otherwise would be handled by the CPU. Last week we then took a $20 processor and $30 graphics card and managed to play HD videos on Linux quite well when using VDPAU.
NVClock, the open-source utility created by Roderick Colenbrander that allowed overclocking NVIDIA graphics cards under Linux long before NVIDIA had introduced CoolBits has been through some tough times. NVClock could mistakenly be considered dead. NVClock 0.8 has been in development for several years now and it has yet to see a stable release. The last beta release of NVClock occurred in January. Roderick has since moved on to helping out the WINE project, but he still has interest in continuing work on NVClock though he lacks testers for those with the newer GeForce graphics cards.
Up to this point if you've fully wanted to configure and manage your displays when using the binary NVIDIA graphics driver on Linux, you've had to use nvidia-settings from the command-line or the GUI version for full support. We have learned, however, that NVIDIA is quickly working to enable RandR 1.2 support within their binary driver.
Back on November 14, NVIDIA had unveiled their 180.06 Linux driver as a major update that brought forth VDPAU, an advanced video acceleration API, and a horde of other features. Four days after that, NVIDIA then pushed out the 180.08 Linux driver that delivered OpenGL 3.0 support. Now this afternoon, NVIDIA has pushed out another driver. The 180.11 Beta brings in a couple of fixes and improvements.
Less than a week after releasing the NVIDIA 180.06 Linux display driver, NVIDIA has released a new set of beta drivers for their supported alternative operating systems. NVIDIA has released the 180.08 driver, which adds in OpenGL 3.0 support and contains fixes for their new video acceleration API.
NVIDIA had released their 177.80 display driver more than a month ago, but arriving today is a point release update to this binary Linux driver. The NVIDIA 177.82 driver adds support for several new GPUs, a mobile power management fix, a mobile hot-key switching fix, and a Firefox 3.0 image corruption issue. The new ASICs supported in the NVIDIA 177.82 driver include the Quadro NVS 450, Quadro FX 370 LP, Quadro FX 5800, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX 470, and Quadro CX.
As many of you have likely heard, Apple's new MacBook notebooks launched last week and are using NVIDIA graphics instead of the Intel integrated graphics they had been using. With NVIDIA GPUs now appearing on more Apple products with Mac OS X, this graphics company is now encouraging game developers to bring their titles to Mac OS X. At NVIDIA's launch of their new GeForce 9 motherboard IGPs, they had shared their plans to encourage more game developers to release their games for Mac OS X and to bring their release dates closer to when they ship the title for Windows.
The NVIDIA 177.76 Linux driver was released a week ago with a few changes from the earlier betas that made it out of NVIDIA's Santa Clara campus roughly a month ago. Now today NVIDIA has issued another Linux beta driver, which is at version 177.78.
In the past week we've seen the NVIDIA 177.67 binary driver for Linux which was outdone by the NVIDIA 177.68 driver just two days later. The 177.70 Beta driver was then released this morning with fixes and other enhancements since the 177.68 driver. Yesterday we had also seen the release of the xf86-video-nv 2.1.11 driver that added support for a few more chips and fixed a couple of bugs. the xf86-video-nv driver is NVIDIA's open-source X.Org driver thats limited to 2D support and its code-base is obfuscated, which renders this code mostly useless. However, today they have issued a new xf86-video-nv release.
Last week NVIDIA had released the NVIDIA 177.67 driver and then immediately following that was the NVIDIA 177.68 driver and now today marks the release of the NVIDIA 177.70 driver. Like the two former releases, the 177.70 release is another beta driver.
While NVIDIA's NVISION 3D conference is taking place this week, we have yet to hear anything in regards to Linux announcements. However, NVIDIA has updated its open-source driver. Sadly though, their open-source driver is still the xf86-video-nv driver with its 2D limitations and obfuscated code. The xf86-video-nv 2.1.11 release has its hardware cursor initialization code rearranged, ROP bug-fixes for the G80 series, logging the i2c G80 port number, fix some warnings, a pixel clock setting fix, and adding in more and missing chip names. The release announcement for xf86-video-nv 2.1.11 can be read on the X.Org mailing list.
Last week OpenGL 3.0 and GLSL 1.30 were released during SIGGRAPH 2008. In that article we expected NVIDIA would be first to provide an OpenGL 3.0 driver due to NVIDIA's involvement with the Khronos Group and their much rumored "Big Bang II" project, but we had no official comment from them at the time of publishing. Though we now have a response from NVIDIA.
While NVIDIA's newest GPU family is the GTX 200 series, they aren't yet introducing the GTX low-end models but are continuing to mature the GeForce 9 arsenal. Introduced this morning by NVIDIA Corporation was the GeForce 9500GT, which is a sub-$100 product.
If you're using an older NVIDIA graphics card and haven't yet turned to the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver, you may want to check out the latest NVIDIA legacy drivers. NVIDIA has updated its two oldest legacy drivers -- the 71.xx.xx and 96.xx.xx series -- for Linux. The new 71.86.06 driver for Linux fixes a bug that resulted in black-and-white video output on secondary TVs. The other new driver, 96.43.07, has this TV fix too along with improved nvidia-xconfig parsing when using a xorg.conf file that lacks a module section. Both of these new drivers also have support for the Linux 2.6.26 kernel. The NVIDIA 71.86.06 and 96.43.07 Linux drivers can be downloaded from here and here, respectively.
It's been seven weeks since the obfuscated xf86-video-nv driver was last updated, so this afternoon NVIDIA's Aaron Plattner decided to release version 2.1.10, which will be in time for X.Org 7.4. However, before getting excited that they may actually be doing something good with this open-source driver, it continues to be limited to 2D acceleration and of limited use to someone that just laid down several hundred dollars for a graphics card or two.
Yesterday we reported on the Linux Foundation's message they have issued on the behalf of more than 140 kernel developers: Binary-only kernel modules are harmful and undesirable. While no vendor was singled out in this message, the biggest hardware manufacturer that has yet to provide any real level of open-source support is NVIDIA Corporation.
NVIDIA has released the 173.14.09 binary display driver. However, support for the GeForce GTX 200 series is not part of the change-log, unfortunately. This driver is just a bug-fix release for the recently released 173.14.05. Though this driver does have the following fixes: aliased font rendering corruption on X.Org Server 1.5, display corruption problem driving two dual-link DFPs with the Quadro FX 1700, a regression that prevented the X driver from starting on some GeForce FX/6/7 series, and fixing a locale-interaction issue in the nvidia-settings parser. In addition, this release also has preliminary support for the Linux 2.6.26 kernel. To download the x86 and x86_64 NVIDIA Linux drivers, click here and here, respectively.
This morning NVIDIA had unveiled the GeForce GTX 200 series and already NVIDIA's Aaron Plattner has committed support for these cards to the open-source xf86-video-nv driver. This support just involved adding in two new PCI IDs for the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280. No other work was needed, since of course this driver is limited to mode-setting and 2D acceleration. Though if you've just shelled out $399 or $649 on a graphics card, changes are you will want to stay clear of this obfuscated driver. If you want to check out this driver, you'll need to obtain it from git on FreeDesktop.org.
As expected, today NVIDIA unveiled their GeForce GTX 200 family of graphics processors. At this time their family is a bit small with only the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 being shown off, but the GTX family should grown soon. These GTX GPUs support CUDA (with PhysX support), second generation NVIDIA unified architecture, 3-way SLI Technology, and PureVideo HD. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 is made up of 192 processing cores, 576MHz core clock, 999MHz memory clock for its 896MB GDDR3 memory on a 448-bit interface. The fastest GTX processor right now, the GTX 280, has 240 processing cores, 602MHz core clock, 1107MHz memory clock for its 1GB GDDR3 memory on a 512-bit interface. Right now there is no NVIDIA Linux driver to support these next-generation GPUs, but once there is we'll let you know along with providing a performance run-down and other analysis. The GTX 260 costs $399 USD while the GeForce GTX 280 will set you back $649.
This past week NVIDIA had unveiled the GeForce 9 Mobile GPUs at the Computex Taipei trade-show. The GeForce 9M GPUs were announced just before AMD had rolled out its Puma platform with the fastest ATI mobile graphics ever and the introduction of XGP, which is a PCI Express 2.0 technology for allowing external graphics cards to be used with this new notebook platform.
From Computex Taipei, NVIDIA has announced the GeForce 9 Mobile GPUs. NVIDIA claims these next-generation mobile GPUs are 40% faster than their current GeForce 8 mobile processors and 10x faster than IGPs. These low-power GPUs also support PureVideo HD with full support for Blu-ray. When it comes to connectors, these GPUs are designed for NVIDIA's new MXM v3.0 module specification and from the outside they can support DVI, HDMI 1.3, DisplayPort 1.1, and analog VGA connections.
Following the introduction of Intel's Atom MID (Mobile Internet Device) processor family as part of the Menlow platform, VIA had introduced the Nano Processor Family just last week. Today at Computex Taipei, NVIDIA has announced their own mobile processor. NVIDIA's family of mobile processors is called Tegra and is currently made up of the Tegra 650 and Tegra APX 2500, which are planned for use with Windows smart-phones. The Tegra computer-on-a-chip architecture is made up of an 800MHz ARM CPU, HD video processor, and ultra low-power (and low-end) GeForce GPU. More information can be found in the NVIDIA Tegra Press Release.
In addition to NVIDIA releasing the 173.14.05 Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris driver this past week, they've made an additional software move. NVIDIA has decided to release Gelato Pro, which previously costed $1,500 USD per node, as now a free download. Gelato Pro is rendering software developed (originally the Blue Moon Rendering Tools and Entropy software before a 2002 acquisition by NVIDIA) that allows for advanced acceleration on NVIDIA (specifically the Quadro series) GPUs. There has been a Gelato non-Pro edition of this software capable of rendering film-quality images that has been available for a free download, but now the professional edition is also free. The caveat for making this free, however, is that NVIDIA no longer plans to maintain the Gelato software. They have discontinued all work on the Gelato software and will be focusing their resources on mental ray software.
As a late Friday night release, NVIDIA's Aaron Plattner has announced xf86-video-nv 2.1.9. Back in March the xf86-video-nv 2.1.8 driver was released with initial support for the GeForce 9600GT and today's release improves the G80 support as well as fixing some startup bugs, sorting the supported devices table, adding an option to allow validation of dual-link DVI modes, and a few other minor changes. This announcement can be read on the xorg mailing list.
When OpenTheBlob.com started in late February, within one week of its launch it already had 5,000 signatures and days later it passed the 6,000 and 7,000 marks too. This letter was an open letter to NVIDIA looking for more information on their open-source strategy. While things have slowed down, this past week it crossed the point of having 9,000 signatures!
Last week NVIDIA had released the 173.08 display driver for Linux and Solaris operating systems. This driver update had introduced support for new GeForce and Quadro GPUs, experimental X Server 1.5 support, NVIDIA mobile improvements, and a few bug-fixes.
Back in January AMD had introduced the Radeon HD 3870 X2 and this morning NVIDIA has counter-attacked them by unleashing the NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2. The GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics card is made up of two GeForce G9x 65nm GPUs with each one being clocked at 600MHz and each having 128 stream processors and 512MB of 1GHz GDDR3 memory. These two GPUs are on the same PCB and connected via Scalable Link Interface. Early Windows benchmarks show the NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 slaughtering the Radeon HD 3870 X2, but AMD's dual-GPU offering is priced much lower.
Back during CES 2008 we reported that NVIDIA may be plotting an open-source strategy (according to a NVIDIA partner) as the ATI/AMD camp has been on a spree with releasing NDA-free specifications to the OSS community and supporting two open source drivers (Radeon and RadeonHD). Since then, Intel has also joined this open bandwagon by releasing the G965/G35 programming documentation in full (2D, 3D, video, everything) even though they have already have a reliable open-source driver.
Following the open letter to NVIDIA at OpenTheBlob.com that takes aim at NVIDIA's lack of a reliable open-source driver, now out is a letter geared for NVIDIA's board partners (ASUS, Dell, BFG Tech, etc). This happens to be based off of a strategy I discussed before for frustrated ATI customers prior to the new driver code-base. If you're interested in taking a stand for an open NVIDIA, the page with links and a sample letter can be found here.
Late last month NVIDIA had unveiled the GeForce 9600GT graphics card as direct competition to the AMD Radeon HD 3850 / 3870. This new PCI Express graphics card still isn't supported by the latest official driver (169.12), but it's been reported to work (at least partially) when using the Tesla 171.05 driver. There is now, however, limited open-source support for this card.
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