This year is quickly coming to a close and we are here again with what has become a yearly ritual for Phoronix. Time and time again with each NVIDIA and ATI Linux driver release we thoroughly examine the change-log as well as dissecting the performance changes through our rigorous benchmarking process. Now for this article we are retesting all of the major display drivers released this year to see how they compare as a whole and commenting on some of the most prominent advancements made throughout the year. In this article we will be examining the NVIDIA proprietary display drivers. Our ATI A Year in Review article will be published later this month after the 8.32 fglrx driver release. Without further ado, we present the NVIDIA AYiR 2006!
The driver cycle for NVIDIA started out this year on April 7 with the introduction of version 1.0-8756. The month prior we were fortunate enough to have our hands on the 1.0-8751 internal beta candidate, which most notably had appended support for the GeForce 7900 series. The NVIDIA 1.0-8756 driver had also introduced support for the GeForce 7300, 7400 Go, and 7600 GPUs. Other release highlights were support for the Composite X extension, hardware acceleration of the Render X extension by default, Linux/i2c support to the NVIDIA kernel module, improved power management support, nvidia-auto-select mode, and added support for GLX 1.4. In total there were twelve highlights for this release, which was the first driver in nearly four months.
Coming closely after the 1.0-8756 driver launch was version 1.0-8762. As noted by the version, this was a minor bug-fix release. The primary changes included fixes for system crashing with TwinView on certain GPUs, corruption problems on large desktops with older GPUs, SLI Frame Rendering on the nForce 4 SLI Intel, and improved support for certain GPUs. Also added in this driver was support for the Quadro FX 4500 X2, FX 5500, FX 3500, and FX 1500.
Delivered on August 24 was the 1.0-8774 Linux display driver. While there were only three changes, the highlights had brought a fair amount of weight. Most importantly, NVIDIA engineers had finally delivered support for X.Org 7.1. The lack of support for X.Org 7.1 was widely criticized by NVIDIA users. X11R71 was released on May 22, while the ATI fglrx drivers had introduced support on July 28. The NVIDIA 1.0-8774 driver had also brought support for X-Video with the Composite X extension on X11R71 and improved interaction with newer Linux kernels.