Yesterday KDE 4.1 was released and there are widely known 2D performance problems with the GeForce 8 and 9 series, which are especially exhibited when using the K Desktop Environment. So you think NVIDIA would address this issue in their next driver update? Guess again. Early this morning NVIDIA had released a new driver as version 173.14.12. This is the first NVIDIA Linux driver release in a month and a half, but its change-log is quite slim.
More information on NVIDIA's 2D performance problems can be read here in the forums. From our testing of the driver thus far and with the feedback of others, it looks like this issue still hasn't been resolved nor is it mentioned in their release notes. What is, however, mentioned in their release note is fixing a problem with missing rendering in OpenGL workstation overlays, running some SDL applications and virtual terminal switching, addressing a potential crash in nvidia-settings when saving the X configuration file, and improving the error recovery paths in the case of corruption of the commands set to the GPU. In addition, there is added product support for the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GS. That's it for the official changes.
NVIDIA's FreeBSD and Solaris x86 drivers have been updated today to version 173.14.12 with the same set of changes.
NVIDIA's last driver release was on June 17 when releasing the 173.14.09 and 177.13 beta drivers. The 173.14.09 driver just contained a few bug fixes along with Linux 2.6.26 kernel support. The 177.13 driver had added support for the GeForce GTX 200 series.
With all of this said, we really haven't seen a "big" NVIDIA driver release in a few months now. Fortunately though, it looks like something of larger impact may be on the horizon for NVIDIA and Linux. Rumors have been flying around about a "Big Bang II" for NVIDIA's Windows drivers. NVIDIA's first Big Bang came when they had introduced Scalable Link Interface, but the Linux support for that hadn't arrived at the same time as Windows. Some of the possible highlights of Big Bang II could be OpenGL 3.0 support, transcoding support on the GPU, multi-monitor SLI support, and performance improvements. These would certainly be nice to see and with the shared code-base between all of NVIDIA's supported platforms (Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris) it certainly seems possible. We have been invited to NVISION 2008 (their first-ever graphics conference) but as of yet we don't know what Linux announcements they'll be making whether its related to an open-source strategy, Big Bang II, or something else.