Nvidia this week released a new set of mobile GPU GeForce drivers, version 186.03 (WHQL certified). The new drivers support GeForce 8M, 9M, 100M, and 200M-series notebook graphics.
Several new features come with the GeForce 186.03 release, including full OpenGL 3.0 support, support for CUDA 2.2, and support of Ambient Occlusion, which Nvidia says "adds realism to scenes by reducing the intensity of ambient lights on surfaces blocked by surrounding objects." Lots of double-digit performance upgrades are included, too:
Up to 25 percent faster in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
Up to 22 percent faster in Crysys: Warhead with antialiasing enabled
Up to 11 percent faster in Fallout 3 with antialiasing enabled
Up to 14 percent faster in Far Cry 2
Up to 45 percent faster in Mirror's Edge with antialiasing enabled
Dell owners take note - before downloading the new drivers, Nvidia says anyone who owns a Dell Inspiron 1420, Dell XPS M1330, or Dell XPS M1530 should first install an SBIOS update, found here.
Maingear this week announced the Pulse gaming PC, the first Ion-based rig to sport upgradeable Nvidia graphics. The company also claims its Pulse is the "world's greenest gaming PC."
Built around Nvidia's Ion platform, the Pulse comes standard with an Intel 65W Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor, integrated GeForce 9300 graphics upgradeable to a discrete 9800 GT ECO card which the company says consumes 40 percent less power than a standard 9800 GT, up to 8GB of DDR2-800 memory, up to a 500GB hard drive or 160GB SSD, and an 80+ certified 300W power supply.
"The Maingear Puls with Nvidia graphics perfect for anyone who wants a small, energy efficient, and stylish PC," Maingear stated in a press release. "With its Nvidia Ion-based motherboard, the Pulse delivers the best graphics solution available for low-power, small form factor designs.
Try to imagine where 3D gaming would be today if not for the graphics processing unit, or GPU. Without it, you wouldn't be tredging through the jungles of Crysis in all its visual splendor, nor would you be fending off endless hordes of fast-moving zombies at high resolutions. For that to happen, it takes a highly specialized chip designed for parallel processing to pull off the kinds of games you see today, the same ones that wouldn't be possible on a CPU alone. Going forward, GPU makers will try to extend the reliance on videocards to also include physics processing, video encoding/decoding, and other tasks that where once handled by the CPU.
It's pretty amazing when you think about how far graphics technology has come. To help you do that, we're going to take a look back at every major GPU release since the infancy of 3D graphics. Join us as we travel back in time and relive releases like 3dfx's Voodoo3 and S3's ViRGE lineup. This is one nostalgiac ride you don't want to miss!
Nvidia has just released a new WHQL-certified driver, version 185.85, for GeForce videocard and ION platform owners. The new driver adds official support for the recently released GTX 275 videocard, as well as support for CUDA 2.2, which Nvidia says will result in improved performance in GPU computing applications. Other performance claims include:
Up to 25 percent in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
Up to 22 perent in Crysis: Warhead with antialiasing enabled
Up to 11 percent in Fallout 3 with antialiasing enabled
Up to 14 percent in Far Cry 2
Up to 30 percent in Half-Life 2 engine games with 3-way and 4-way SLI
Up to 45 percent in Mirror's Edge with antialiasing enabled
You read that right - that's up to a 45 percent boost in Mirror's Edge, according to Nvidia. In addition, 185.85 updates the PhysX software to 9.09.0408 and offers "numerous bug fixes." Barrage of links below.
The latest graphics rumor making the rounds for the past month was that Nvidia would be releasing a single-PCB version of its dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocard, however it was unclear what other changes the design alteration would result in. At least until now.
According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, the slimmer, single-PCB GTX 295 looks to be more about cutting costs than adding performance. Following in ATI's footsteps, Nvidia will place both GPUs on a single circuit board, which should help the company save a bit on manufacturing.
However, only the memory is said to getting a small boost, with Nvidia increasing the reference design's frequency from 1000MHz on the dual-PCB version to 1100MHz on the single-PCB. Both the core and shaders clockspeeds will remain the same at 576MHz and 1242MHz, respectively, and despite shelving the second PCB, it will still be a dual-slot card. It will also be half an inch longer, Fudzilla says, measuring a full eleven inches.
If the rumor holds true, look for the revised card to show up by the middle of May with no change to its price point.
More and more custom cooling solutions are starting to appear for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285 videocards, with one of the more intriguing options belonging to MSI. The company has taken traditional heatpipe designs, fattened them up, and slapped them on its N285GTX SuperPipe OC graphics card.
"Today, MSI is pleased to announce the N285GTX SuperPipe graphics card, which not only brings to bear the powerful NVIDIA GPU - GeForce GTX 285, but, via the revolutionary ‘SuperPipe’ and Twin Frozr thermal design, offers a high performance and thermal efficiency graphics card," MSI wrote in a press release.
The aptly named SuperPipes consiste of 8mm thick heatpipes, which are up to 60 percent thicker than traditional heatpipes. According to MSI, the wider design leads to 90 percent better cooling performance. The N285GTX has been outfitted with five heatpipes in all, two of which are SuperPipes, on an all-metal heatsink with dual fans.
Before someone asks, the answer is 'yes,' we don't doubt the Atlas Folder can handle Crysis. But despite outfitting his server with 23 -- TWENTY EFFING THREE! -- gual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Jason Farqué, who goes by the username Atlas Folding, has a more important goal in mind:
"The reason that my father in enrolled in [a clinical trial] is the same as the reason I run my folding farm. To fight back, to do something," Farqué wrote on his blog. "To help science overcoming Huntington's Disease so that people as yet unborn wont' have as hard a time as he and others do. Because my father wants the human race to succeed, to get better, to overcome our bodies' inherent frailties by using our minds."
Farqué's father suffers from Huntington's Disease, and if Stanford's Folding@Home distributed computing project leads to a cure, then it will be hard to imagine a better use for such a gluttony of high powered videocards. Among the setup are 9 MSI-brand 295s, 14 EVGA-brand 295s, and and a single GTX 260 and 9800GT thrown in for good measure.
And if you think that's impressive, Farqué has been mulling a similar setup with Nvidia's 300 series once it launches.
Check out a video of the super Folding server here, a Maximum PC forum post on how Farqué handled the configuration here, and see how you can both help the cause and lead Maximum PC to victory in this year's Chimp Challenge here.
Nvidia today announced the GeForce GTX 275 GPU, which the company claims is the highest performing GPU in the $230 to $250 price tier. As the name suggests, the GTX 275 nestles in between the GTX 260 and GTX 285, fleshing out the company's mid-range graphics line.
Build around the GT200 architecture, the GTX 275 sports 240 processor cores racing along at 1,404MHz, 80 texture processing units, and 895MB of GDDR3 video memory clocked at 1,134MHz on a 448-bit bus. The reference design calls for the GPU to run 634MHz. The end result is a videocard that, according to Nvidia, will best ATI's HD 4890 by 10 to 20 percent.
Nvidia also announced its new GeForce Power Pack #3. Included with the new Power Pack are three new PhysX-accelerated apps and two new CUDA-accelerated programs.
The GeForce GTX 275 will be available globally on or before April 14 in both standard and overclocked versions from the usual suspects (Asus, BFG, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, and more).
Word on the web is that Nvidia will release its GTS 250 videocard sometime this week, which is essentially a rebranded 9800 GTX+. Nvidia's latest GeForce drivers -- WHQL 182.08 -- adds support for the upcoming card, while also extending SLI profile support for some newly released games.
Nvidia claims up to double-digit performance gains in handful of games with the new drivers versus 181.22, including up to 11 percent in Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, up to 10 percent in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and up to 10 percent in Race Driver: GRID at high resolution and AA.
The latest release also fixes a bug in Vista 32-bit with dual-GeForce 8600 GT videocards that prevented the Fluid Demo (using PhysX) from running while using hardware acceleration when SLI is enabled. Good thing too, lest anyone second guess investing in two 8600 GT cards.
Nvidia has said on more than one occasion that it wants to simplify its product line to make it easier for consumers who might not know the difference between, say, an 8800 GTS 256MB, 8800 GTS 512MB, and 8800 GTS 640MB, and why the 512MB trumps them both. Then there's the 9800GTX+, which is a supercharged 9800 GTX, which is really a supercharged G92-based 8800 GTS, which is confusing as all get-out.
It gets better. Meet the GeForce GTS 250, the videocard formerly known as the 9800 GTX+. The rebranded videocard still uses the 55nm G92b GPU, however in a more mature yielding chip in GTS 250 trim. Available in both 512MB and 1GB configurations, the latter includes a new board design noticeably smaller than the 9800 GTX+ by about an inch and a half.
Other specs include a 738MHz core clockspeed, 1100MHz memory clockspeed, 256-bit memory interface for a 70.4 GB/s of total memory bandwidth, 16 ROPs, 64 texture filtring units, and 128 processor cores. The GTS 250 carries a TDP of 150 watts, and according to Anandtech's testing, both idle and load power consumption runs about 30W less than the 9800 GTX+.
The 512MB and 1GB versions will run $130 and $150 respectively, with widespread availability expected next week.