Since last month's general availability of Microsoft Windows Vista, NVIDIA has introduced the Forceware 100.XX series. The quality of this driver has been very debatable (some even calling for a class action law suit), but it has added DirectX 10.0 support for Vista Longhorn users. However, the Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris drivers remain in the 1.0-9XXX series. While we have yet to see any major NVIDIA Linux developments in 2007, we have decided to take one final look at this most recent driver series. In this article, we are retesting the 1.0-9626, 1.0-9629, 1.0-9631, and 1.0-9746 Linux display drivers. We have also added the NVIDIA 1.0-9751 display driver to the mix; if you've never seen the driver we will tell you in this article where you can get it. We are also shedding the first light on what will likely become the NVIDIA 2.0-XXXX display driver for Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD.
Though not confirmed by any NVIDIA officials, we take it that this is the end of the Linux/Solaris/FreeBSD 1.0-9XXX series for any major developments. We are not certain what the next NVIDIA Linux driver step will be, but we imagine it likely will be the introduction of the 2.0-0XXX (or 2.0-1XXX) series. What is on the table for the next series? Well, something tells us that a new NVIDIA installer could be in the works (something GTK based; possibly on the Loki installer). It also looks as if some video playback improvements are underway. PureVideo HD exists for Windows ForceWare users, but at this time there is no equivalent for green Linux users. With ATI/AMD purportedly working on a brand new Linux control panel this year, it would not surprise us if NVIDIA were improving their settings area with either their GTK nvidia-settings panel or nvidia-xconfig. Last but not least, it’s very possible that we will finally see improved Scalable Link Interface (SLI) support.
For those that may be new to Phoronix, in the past for the 1.0-8XXX and 1.0-9XXX series we had featured previews that covered features to expect along with other speculations and we have had quite a track record with finding out these changes. Among the features we had correctly named for the 1.0-9XXX introduction was GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap (Beryl/Compiz support), new product support, Quad SLI support, and control panel improvements. What however was not introduced in the 1.0-9XXX series was the new driver installer. The big (but poor) feature hitting the NVIDIA 1.0-8XXX series was Scalable Link Interface support.
When looking at the NVIDIA 1.0-9XXX series we would classify it as being very odd. We have only seen four official driver releases in this series, and it looks like it has ended (or will be coming to a close) less than six months later. For perspective, the 1.0-8XXX series had seen six driver releases stretched out for nearly a year. Likewise, the cycle for the 1.0-7XXX series and others in the past were also longer. What also makes the 1.0-9XXX series odd is that it was the first time NVIDIA had publicly provided Linux users with a beta display driver. While NVIDIA does maintain a private beta program, this was the first time they had on their own free will provided such a public driver (NVIDIA 1.0-8168 Drivers Leaked). The Linux/Solaris/FreeBSD beta driver area has disappeared from nZone, but NVIDIA has stated to Phoronix that they have not stopped the posting process (Phoronix Forums thread).
In this driver we will also be testing the NVIDIA 1.0-9751 display driver. This driver is not presently available from the Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris section on NVIDIA's website. In order to obtain this driver you must go through the CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) area. If you are interested in obtaining this driver, head on over to this thread in the Phoronix Forums to find out where. These drivers have been available for a few days now, but it really does not bring anything major to the table or any critical improvements (hence probably the reason why NVIDIA does not mention this in their normal driver area). NVIDIA having "misplaced" drivers is not new as previously Phoronix had spotted them over on Hewlett-Packard servers. The NVIDIA 1.0-9751 driver is compatible with CUDA v0.8.