Subject: Graphics Cards | February 28, 2019 - 11:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, security
Normally, when we discuss graphics drivers, there are a subset of users that like to stay on old versions. Some have older hardware and they believe that they will get limited benefits going forward. Others encounter a bug with a certain version and will refuse to update until it is patched.
In this case – you probably want to update regardless.
NVIDIA has found eight security vulnerabilities in their drivers, which have been corrected in their latest versions. One of them also affects Linux... more on that later.
On Windows, there are five supported branches:
- Users of R418 for GeForce, Quadro, and NVS should install 419.17.
- Users of R418 for Tesla should install 418.96.
- Users of R400 for Quadro and NVS should install 412.29.
- Users of R400 for Tesla should install 412.29.
- Users of R390 for Quadro and NVS should install 392.37.
Basically, you should install 419.17 unless you are using professional hardware.
One issue is being likened to Meltdown and Spectre although it is not quite the same. In those cases, the exploit took advantage of hardware optimizations leak system memory. In the case of CVE-2018-6260, however, the attack uses NVIDIA’s performance counters to potentially leak graphics memory. The difference is that GPU performance counters are a developer tool, used by applications like NVIDIA Nsight, to provide diagnostics. Further, beyond targeting a developer tool that can be disabled, this attack also requires local access to the device.
Linux users are also vulnerable to this attack (but not the other seven):
- Users of R418 for GeForce, Quadro, and NVS should install 418.43.
- Users of R418 for Tesla should install 418.39.
- Users of R400 for GeForce, Quadro, NVS, and Tesla should install 410.104.
- Users of R390 for GeForce, Quadro, NVS, and Tesla should install 390.116.
- Users of R384 for Tesla should install 384.183.
Whether on Windows or Linux, after installing the update, a hidden option will allow you to disable GPU performance counters unless admin credentials are provided. I don’t know why it’s set to the insecure variant by default… but the setting can be toggled in the NVIDIA Control Panel. On Windows it’s Desktop then Enable Developer Settings then Manage GPU Performance Counters under Developer then Restrict access to the GPU counters to admin users only. See the driver release notes (especially the "Driver Security" section) for more info.
The main thing to fix is the other seven, however. That just requires the driver update. You should have received a notification from GeForce Experience if you use it; otherwise, check out NVIDIA’s website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 18, 2019 - 12:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce
Apparently the latest WHQL driver, 418.81, can cause random application crashes and TDRs (“Timeout Detection and Recovery”) issues on Windows 7 and 8.1. NVIDIA has followed up with a hotfix driver, 418.99, that addresses the issue.
Hotfix drivers do not undergo full testing, so they should not be installed unless you are concerned about the specific issues they fix. In this case, because the bug does not affect Windows 10, a Windows 10 driver is not even provided.
In case you’re wondering what “Timeout Detection and Recovery” is, Windows monitors the graphics driver to make sure that work is being completed quickly (unless it is not driving a monitor – Windows doesn’t care how long a GPU is crunching on compute tasks if it is not being used for graphics). If it hangs for a significant time, Windows reboots the graphics driver just in case it was stuck in, for example, an infinite loop caused by a bad shader or compute task. Without TDR, the only way to get out of this situation would be to cut power to the system.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 5, 2018 - 08:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, pc gaming, graphics drivers
Another major version bump has occurred in NVIDIA’s Game Ready Drivers over the span of around two weeks. Typically, although there has been a couple of exceptions, NVIDIA has branches that contain major new features once every two-or-so major version numbers. They then push maintenance releases along the number line, which are probably cherry-picked into various branches. In this case, the 410-series branch, which was embodied in 411.63 and 411.60, brought in support for the RTX 20-series of cards.
This has been superseded by the 415-series branch with 416.16. (Oddly enough, the root branch has an odd version number. This is the first time I remember seeing that, although I have not been paying too much attention.)
What has changed? Even though it is a Game Ready driver, it is not associated with a game launch per se. Instead, it is for Windows 10 version 1809, which includes support for DirectX Raytracing (DXR). It also adds a handful of fixes, such as removing black-square glitches from Quake HD Remix mod and improving the performance of TXAA in Rainbow 6: Siege. So basically, the main advantage of this driver will be for those who are using the RTX 20-series cards when games such as Battlefield V launch, which should have been two weeks from now but has, instead, been pushed back to November 20th. (I don’t know if they said that raytracing would be supported at launch, though.)
As always, feel free to refresh GeForce Experience and update your drivers.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2018 - 10:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce
NVIDIA aligns their graphics driver releases with game launches, and today’s 398.36 is for Ubisoft’s The Crew 2. The game comes out on Friday, but the graphics vendors like to give a little room if possible (and a Friday makes that much easier than a Tuesday). NVIDIA is also running a bundle deal – you get The Crew 2 Standard Edition free when you purchase a qualifying GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Ti, GeForce gaming desktop, or GeForce gaming laptop. Personally, I would wait for new graphics cards to launch, but if you need one now then – hey – free game!
Now onto the driver itself.
GeForce 398.36 is actually from the 396.xx branch, which means that it’s functionally similar to the previous drivers. NVIDIA seems to release big changes with the start of an even-numbered branch, such as new API support, and then spend the rest of the release, and its odd-numbered successor, fixing bugs and adding game-specific optimizations. While this means that there shouldn’t be anything surprising, it also means that it should be stable and polished.
This brings us to the bug fixes.
If you were waiting for the blue-screen issue with Gears of War 4 to be fixed on Pascal GPUs, then grab your chainsaws it should be good to go. Likewise, if you had issues with G-SYNC causing stutter outside of G-SYNC games, such as the desktop, then that has apparently been fixed, too.
When you get around to it, the new driver is available on GeForce Experience and NVIDIA’s site.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 3, 2018 - 08:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers
The previous set of drivers, version 397.31 that was released last week, had a few bugs in them… so NVIDIA has released a hotfix (397.55) to address the issues (without waiting for the next “Game Ready” date). Of course, these drivers also went through a reduced QA process, so they should be avoided unless one of the problems affect you.
And the fixed bugs are:
- Device Manager may report Code 43 on certain GTX 1060 models
- Netflix playback may occasionally stutter
- Added support for Microsoft Surface Book notebooks
- Driver may get removed after PC has been idle for extended periods of time
The last issue manifests in a couple of different forms. The forum page specifically mentions Windows 10, although users with Windows 7 and Windows 8 could also be affected by the bug, just with different symptoms. I experienced it, and for me (on Windows 10) it was just a matter of force-quitting all processes prefixed with “nv” in task manager. My symptoms were that GeForce Experience would attempt to re-download the drivers and StarCraft II would fail to launch. If you’re experiencing similar issues, then you’ll probably want to give this driver a shot.
You can download it from their CustHelp page.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 25, 2018 - 08:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, rtx, Volta
It’s quite the jump in version number from 391.35 to 397.31, but NVIDIA has just released a new graphics driver. Interestingly, it is “Game Ready” tied to the Battletech, which I have been looking forward to, but I was always under the impression that no-one else was. Apparently not.
As for its new features? The highlight is a developer preview of NVIDIA RTX Technology. This requires a Volta GPU, which currently means Titan V unless your team was seeded something that doesn’t necessarily exist, as well as 396.xx+ drivers, the new Windows 10 update, and Microsoft DXR developer package. Speaking of which, I’m wondering how much of the version number bump could be attributed to RTX being on the 396.xx branch. Even then, it still feels like a branch or two never left NVIDIA’s dev team. Hmm.
Moving on, the driver also conforms with the Vulkan 1.1 test suite (version 18.104.22.168). If you remember back from early March, the Khronos Group released the new standard, which integrated a bunch of features into core, and brought Subgroup Operations into the mix. This could allow future shaders to perform quicker by being compiled with new intrinsic functions.
Also – the standalone installer will apparently clean up after itself better than it used to. Often I can find a few gigabytes of old NVIDIA folders when I’m looking for space to save, so it’s good for NVIDIA to finally address at least some of that.
Pick up the new drivers on NVIDIA’s website or through GeForce Experience.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2018 - 02:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, hotfix, graphics drivers
NVIDIA has published a hotfix driver, 391.05, for a few issues that didn’t make it into the recently released 391.01 WHQL version. Specifically, if you are experiencing any of the following issues, then you can go to the NVIDIA forums and follow the link to their associated CustHelp page:
- NVIDIA Freestyle stopped working
- Display corruption on Titan V
- Support for Microsoft Surface Book notebooks
While improved support for the Titan V and the Microsoft Surface Book is very important for anyone who owns those devices, NVIDIA Freestyle is an interesting one for the masses. NVIDIA allows users to hook the post processing stage of various supported games and inject their own effects. The feature launched in January and it is still in beta, but lead users still want it to work of course. If you were playing around with this feature and it stopped working on 390-based drivers, then check out this hotfix.
For the rest of us? Probably a good idea to stay on the official drivers. Hotfixes have reduced QA, so it’s possible that other bugs were introduced in the process.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 14, 2018 - 07:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers
AMD has published a new version of their Radeon Software Adrenaline Edition graphics drivers. This one focuses on Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Fortnite, and PlayerUnknown’s Battleground. The first one, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, is an action RPG from Deep Silver and Warhorse Studios. It is the studio’s first game, although its founders came from 2K and Bohemia Interactive.
AMD is quoting frame rate increases in the range of ~3-4% with this driver, although PubG can see up to 7% if you compare it with 17.12.1. They don’t seem to list any fixes, although there’s a handful of known issues, like FreeSync coming online during Google Chrome video playback, refreshing incorrectly and causing flicker. There’s also a system hang that could occur when twelve GPUs are performing a compute task. I WONDER WHAT CONDITIONS WOULD CAUSE THAT.
You can pick up the latest driver from AMD’s website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 8, 2017 - 09:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, graphics drivers
When we report on graphics drivers, it’s almost always for AMD or NVIDIA. It’s Intel’s turn this time, however, with their latest 15.60 release. This version supports HDR playback on NetFlix and YouTube, and it adds Windows Mixed Reality for Intel HD 620 and higher.
I should note that this driver only supports Skylake-, Kaby Lake-, and Coffee Lake-based parts. I’m not sure whether this means that Haswell-and-earlier have been deprecated, but it looks like the latest ones that support those chips are from May.
In terms of game-specific optimizations? Intel has some to speak of. This driver focuses on The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2, and Divinity: Original Sin 2. All of these name-drops are alongside Iris Pro, so I'm not sure how low you can go for any given title. Thankfully, many game distribution sites allow refunds for this very reason, although you still want to do a little research ahead-of-time.
That's all beside the point, though: Intel's advertising game-specific optimizations.
If you have a new Intel GPU, pick up the new drivers from Intel's website.
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2017 - 09:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, nvidia, graphics drivers
As we head into another batch of holiday releases, NVIDIA has published another GeForce driver: 388.13. While they don’t explicitly call this out in the release notes, the CustHelp page for 388.10, which was released late last week, suggests that 388.13 will help Kepler users have a more stable experience in Wolfenstein II. If you were having troubles, check these out. The release notes also claims that 388.13 fixes an issue with multiple monitors.
Otherwise, the driver is mostly game-specific optimizations. The headlining game for 388.13 is Call of Duty WWII. As usual, that franchise is quite popular, although not nearly as much as it was, say… eight-to-ten years ago. Still, there will be a lot of people buying it. The other two “Game Ready” titles for this driver are Need for Speed Payback and the formerly PS4-exclusive, Nioh: Complete Edition.
Oh… it is also the first driver to support the GeForce 1070 Ti.
If you don’t continuously check GeForce Experience, then be sure to open it and check for driver updates. Alternatively, you can just install them from the website.