Last week it was exclusively reported by Phoronix that a new NVIDIA binary Linux display driver should be out in the next week, and sure enough we were right, again. The NVIDIA 173.08 Linux driver was released last night and features support for several new NVIDIA GPUs, including the GeForce 9800 series, experimental support for X Server 1.5, and a number of fixes with Linux 2.6.25 kernel compatibility.
The new NVIDIA products supported by this 173.08 binary driver update include the GeForce 8400, 8400GS, 9500M GS, 9600GT, 9800GTX, and 9800GX2. The GeForce 9600GT has actually been supported since the previous release when we had reviewed the GeForce 9600GT 512MB on Linux. The big product support additions are just for the mobile GeForce 9 GPUs and the GeForce 9800 series. On the workstation side, the Quadro FX 3600M and Quadro FX 4600/5600 SDI and Quadro G-Sync II are now supported by this Linux driver.
This x86/x86_64 driver release now allows OpenGL rendering to extend beyond 4096 pixels wide for GeForce 8/9 graphics cards, which was an earlier limitation of this driver. OpenGL rendering should also now be fixed of corruption issues when using textured compressed with the DXT5 algorithm. On the display side, this release has a fix for a regression that had made its way into the recent NVIDIA driver releases that had caused invalid EDID information to be parsed on some notebook displays. There is also a fix in this 173.08 driver that caused a DVI synchronization issue for GeForce 8/9 GPUs.
Further enhancing the NVIDIA Linux mobile capabilities, there is also improved hot-key switching and power management support for some notebooks utilizing a GeForce 8 series GPU. One other bug that NVIDIA mentions is fixed is now being able to restore a console correctly when running SLI (Scalable Link Interface) on older NVIDIA hardware and that attached secondary TVs should not be displayed in black and white. Last but not least, there is improved compatibility with recent Linux 2.6 kernels (Linux 2.6.25 kernel).
This 173.08 Linux driver does include unofficial (and experimental) support for the latest pre-release X Server 1.5 snapshots. However, in order to use this binary driver with the latest development X servers, you must add the -ignoreABI option when starting X and it's recommended that GLX is disabled from the xorg.conf. NVIDIA will push out full X Server 1.5 support once the video driver ABI for the forthcoming X.Org 7.4 is stabilized.
That wraps up the official changes for this first driver release since the NVIDIA 171.06 release, which came out a little more than a month ago. NVIDIA has deemed the 173.08 driver a beta release, but the x86 and x86_64 download links can be found on their site here and here, respectively.
The NVIDIA Solaris display driver has also been updated with similar changes. The NVIDIA 173.08 driver for Solaris has support for the new Quadro FX components as well as the bug-fixes found in the Linux driver, but accompanied by a bug-fix that previously could have caused the NVIDIA driver to kernel panic on SMP systems.