NVIDIA answers questions about notebook driver announcement

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 18, 2008 - 03:17 PM |
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Though we already posted about NVIDIA's announcement to start supporting drivers for notebook computers, I pinged NVIDIA for some more information and they provided us with the following document that provides quite a bit more information on the topic.  Read on if you have or are thinking about buying that gaming notebook.



NVIDIA Notebook Driver Release

Q:  What are you announcing today?

A: NVIDIA is offering notebook end-users the option of graphics driver upgrades direct from NVIDIA.COM for the first time. The driver update from NVIDIA will offer new features, improved application compatibility, and performance optimizations.   The first web driver update from NVIDIA will extend NVIDIA CUDA™ technology to notebook graphics processing units (GPUs). CUDA technology also moves physics processing to the GPU for new levels of realism in games and virtual worlds based on the market leading PhysX API.

Q:  Why is NVIDIA offering driver support direct from NVIDIA.com for OEM notebooks after 8 years of not doing it?  What has changed?

A: Notebook manufacturers have historically only allowed graphics drivers to be offered directly from them. This was due to the fact that the drivers had to be customized in order to maintain unique implementations of dedicated hotkeys, power management, and smooth suspend/resume. NVIDIA has worked diligently over the past year to modularize its driver architecture and develop a unified driver install package that will not only work with laptops from all manufacturers but also maintain all of their specific model customizations such as hotkeys and suspend and resume functionality.  Consumer demand for timely driver updates has outgrown the rate at which drivers are currently supplied to the market. Customers need new drivers in order to be able to take full advantage of the latest visual computing applications.  

Q:  How do I know if my system will support the new driver?

A: The December beta release will support GeForce 8, GeForce 9, and DirectX 10-class Quadro NVS branded notebooks.  The intelligent installer for the update driver will check which GPU is installed in your notebook and install only on supported systems.  Notebooks with earlier GPUs, motherboard GPUs, or with Quadro FX GPUs, will be added early next year.

Q:  How far back to previous-generation GPUs does the driver go?

A: The December beta release will support GeForce 8, GeForce 9, and Quadro NVS branded notebooks. 

Q:  What GPUs are supported by this driver?

A: The December beta release will support most GeForce 8, GeForce 9, and DX10 class Quadro NVS branded notebooks. There are some exceptions so customers should refer to the driver page to make sure their notebook is supported.

Q: How do your OEMs feel about you releasing drivers for their products now?

A: We expect that our OEM partners would experience fewer customer support issues as a result of providing an updated driver with improved features, performance, and application testing.  But we should defer to our OEM partners for their perspective.

Q: Have any OEMs asked you not to support their products in this driver?

A: Most OEMs have agreed to this release. There are some exceptions so customers should refer to the driver page to make sure their notebook is supported.

Q: Does this driver tie in to the special features and modes that OEMs add to their notebook (IE. Power saving stuff, etc..)?

A: Yes,  NVIDIA has invested in new technologies in order to deliver notebook driver updates to end users, while allowing them to maintain important notebook customizations like hotkeys, power management, and smooth suspend/resume.

Q: How often do you plan to release drivers?

A: Quarterly.

Q:  Are these drivers for Quadro mobile GPUs as well?

A: We are supporting Quadro NVS with this December release and Quadro FX notebook GPUs with another driver release in the new year.

Q: Does using this driver void the OEMs warranty or nullify their free technical support?

A: NVIDIA recommends that you check with your notebook manufacturer’s warranty terms. 

Q:  Why are you just now adding CUDA support for mobile GPUs?

A: Before today, notebook customers that wanted CUDA support had to download a driver that did not account for the customizations in all OEM notebooks.  Now that mainstream retail applications like Badaboom, Cyberlink PowerDirector 8, and Pegasys TMPG have CUDA versions, NVIDIA felt the time is right to ensure that everyone that invested in a GeForce 8400M GPU (or better) should be able to use the GPU for more than just great game experience.

Q:  Will there be a WHQL version of this driver?

A: Yes, the current beta driver update is being qualified now for production notebooks from most OEMs that will ship with WHQL certified CUDA enabled drivers for their new systems.

Q:  How does WHQL work for this driver?  Is it WHQLed on only one system or on a variety of systems?

A: NVIDIA will have a reference WHQL certification for this driver. System WHQL certification is done by OEMs only.

Q:  Will this driver disengage all my hot keys?

A: Our new nvidia.com notebook drivers have been designed to support all of your hotkeys and other platform customizations supported in the original shipping configuration of your notebook.

Q: Is this December release optimized for the latest Holiday games?

A: Yes. The driver should provide a great gaming experience on today’s hottest games. 

Q: Does this driver support Macbooks/Macbook Pro?

A: Yes, these XP and Vista drivers can be used with Boot Camp.

Q: Can I go back to my old driver if I want to?

A: Yes, please follow the instructions on the driver page to create a restore point for your system before installing the driver.

Q: Does the update process differ on NB vs. Desktop?

A: No.

Q:  Where can customers leave feedback on BETA drivers?

A:  Customers are encouraged to leave feedback here: http://surveys.nvidia.com/index.jsp?pi=50aa59cdf782d18a4d043cdd3baa920a

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