Yesterday we had published our AMD Linux 2008 Year in Review where we had provided a recap of all major features introduced in their Linux driver over the past year as well as taking the time to re-benchmark every Catalyst driver released this year. We have been doing this process annually going back to 2005, and now it's time to look at the NVIDIA Linux driver releases from this year.
Like we had done in our AMD yearly recap, we are just looking at the stable driver releases that occurred in 2008. While NVIDIA maintains two legacy branches of their driver for older generations of graphics processors, when it comes to their primary driver there have only a handful of official releases this year. The NVIDIA 171.05 release occurred in January, 171.06 in March, 173.08 in April, and then the 177.82 release in November. There were multiple beta driver releases, however, filling the void between April and November. NVIDIA most recently had introduced the 180.xx driver series, but that's still in beta. With no official release based upon the 180 code-base out at the time of testing, for this article we had opted to use the 180.11 beta release for a brief look.
The NVIDIA 171.05 driver added in support for the Tesla S870 GPU Computing System, but that was the only official change for this driver. This driver though did add an nvidia-smi utility that is for the NVIDIA System Management Interface. Just about a month after that point was the 171.06 driver with its lone official change being added support for the GeForce 9600GT.