NVIDIA 171.06 Linux Display Driver
On the same day as the limited open-source support arriving in the xf86-video-nv driver, NVIDIA's binary display driver for Linux has been updated to officially add support for the GeForce 9600GT graphics card. This new driver update is version 171.06 (Beta) and its only change is the added 9600GT support, but that's compared to the 171.05 driver that was targeted specifically for the Tesla S870.
The GeForce 9600GT was introduced on February 21 as NVIDIA's new mainstream competition to the AMD Radeon HD 3850 and 3870. The 9600GT uses the NVIDIA G94 core, which is built on a 65nm process, contains 64 stream processors, compliant with PCI Express 2.0 systems, has a 650MHz reference core clock, 1800MHz GDDR3 reference memory clock, and a 256-bit memory interface. The GeForce 9600GT graphics cards contain two dual-link DVI connectors, but they lack support for DisplayPort, which can be found on AMD's Radeon HD 3400 and 3600 series (Radeon HD 3650 Linux review). While the 171.06 Beta driver is the first release to officially support this first GeForce 9 graphics card under Linux, the card had in fact worked with the previous 171.05 driver.
The NVIDIA 171.05 Linux driver was released on the first of February contained support for the Tesla S870 GPU Computing System and introduced a new NVIDIA utility. This utility is nvidia-smi, which stands for the NVIDIA System Management Interface. Nvidia-smi will dump system information and has support for a few additional arguments, but at this point, it's really geared for the Tesla S870. The nvidia-smi binary is also included in today's 171.06 driver release.
While the only official change for this beta driver is the 9600GT card support, there are of course unlisted changes with this driver, seeing as the release stream has changed from 169.xx to 171.xx. We are still investigating and on the look out for any other changes and fixes that may be relevant to end-users. The last official (stable) release of the GeForce Linux driver was 169.12, which happened back on February 28. If you haven't noticed the trend yet, this year NVIDIA has been delivering Linux driver updates more frequently than in previous years.
The NVIDIA 171.06 Beta driver for x86 and x86_64 Linux can be downloaded from here and here, respectively. The FreeBSD and Solaris drivers have also been updated to 171.06 with this initial GeForce 9 support. We expect to be delivering a Linux review and benchmarks of the ASUS GeForce 9600GT in the coming days.
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