In 2005 we started our annual AYiR (A Year in Review) articles for looking at the progress of the proprietary ATI and NVIDIA Linux display drivers over time (NVIDIA 2005, NVIDIA 2006). Now in our third year of doing this, it's time to see how NVIDIA's binary driver has panned out over the past year. NVIDIA had introduced GeForce 8 support this year as well as a few other features, but nothing major like in past years, and how has the OpenGL performance changed? With benchmarks in hand, we have the scoop for you today.
This year NVIDIA had introduced a few beta Linux display drivers, while in this article we are only focusing upon the stable drivers. Specifically, these drivers were tagged: 1.0-9755, 100.14.13, 100.14.06, 100.14.09, 100.14.11, 100.14.19, and the recently released 169.07. In addition, NVIDIA has a Quadro Plex Linux driver as well as two legacy Linux drivers, but that isn't part of our testing. Prior to sharing the benchmarks, we have recapped the major changes for each of these releases.
The 1.0-9755 driver was NVIDIA's first Linux driver release of the year, which had come early in March. At that time NVIDIA's software development efforts were focused on the 100.xx.xx series, with the major changes in the 1.0-9755 release just being new product support and expanded SLI (Scalable Link Interface) support (NVIDIA SLI: Linux vs. Windows). The new product support was for the Quadro FX 4600 and Quadro FX 5600 and the expanded SLI support was for these two workstation GPUs as well as the GeForce 8800 series. The Linux SLI support for the GeForce 8800 series had arrived five months after these GPUs first shipped.
The next driver to come out of NVIDIA was a month later and was the first in the 100.xx.xx series. The NVIDIA 100.14.03 driver was also light on the changes and officially it had just added support for the GeForce 8300GS, GeForce 8400GS, GeForce 8500GT, GeForce 8600GT, and GeForce 8600GTS.
The 100.14.03 driver replacement was v100.14.06 and its only highlights were improved notebook support and fixing an assortment of minor bugs.
Finally adding some real changes to the driver for the year was the NVIDIA 100.14.09 release. This driver had appended support for the GeForce 8400M and 8600M as well as several Quadro GPUs. These Quadro graphics processors were the FX 360M, FX 570M, FX 1600M, NVS 130M, NVS 135M, NVS 140M, and NVS 320M. In this driver update there was also support for the Quadro FX 4600/5600 G-Sync. Aside from the product support changes, NVIDIA's 100.14.09 driver had improved GPU notebook support, RenderAccel support for sub-pixel anti-aliased fonts, X-Video brightness and contrast controls for the GeForce 8 series, new Linux kernel support, and fixing a locale bug with nvidia-settings.