NVIDIA Extends Olive Branch to Linux Gamers with Performance Doubling Driver Update

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News Posted: Wed, Nov 7 2012 12:58 PM
It was just a few short months ago when Linus Torvalds ripped into NVIDIA for its perceived sub-par support of the Linux operating system. During a talk at Finland's Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship, Torvalds referred to NVIDIA as "the single worst company we've ever dealt with" before flipping NVIDIA the bird on camera. Despite the outburst, NVIDIA hasn't forgotten about the Linux community. Just the opposite.

The GPU maker this week announced new GeForce R310 drivers that supposedly "double the performance and dramatically reduce game loading times for those gaming on the Linux operating system." If true, that's one heck of an olive branch.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680

"With this release, NVIDIA has managed to increase the overall gaming performance under Linux," said Doug Lombardi, vice president of marketing at Valve. "NVIDIA took an unquestioned leadership position developing R310 drivers with us and other studios to provide an absolutely unequaled solution for Linux gamers."

Linux has garnered increased attention from the gaming community as of late, primarily because Valve has been busy porting its Steam distribution platform over to Ubuntu. Microsoft's walled garden approach to Windows 8 has some game developers concerned about the future of gaming on Windows in general, which in turn has opened the door for Linux to break into the mainstream.
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Linus' outburst occurred in June, while the press release for this states that NVIDIA had been working with Valve for about a year. It seems that NVIDIA's support wasn't quite as lacking as some people believed. I've been an NVIDIA user under Linux for what must be a decade by this point, and I've always been pretty pleased with what I've been given. Can't say the same about AMD, but things there have gotten a lot better as well.

Also, I really wish they'd stop benchmarking Left for Dead 2. They have Serious Sam 3 for Linux... benchmark that, not a game that could run on 10-yo PCs without any trouble.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 3:12 PM

Well, just to be clear, Linus was speaking about the lack of Optimus support and lack of open specs for the hardware, in June. At least one person at nVidia has been working on Optimus support since then, but Linus was and is still absolutely correct about the historical state of their support.

On the topic of benchmarks: Serious Sam 3 doesn't use the Source engine, so it would be hard for Valve to use that to gauge the improvements in Source.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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"Performance doubling driver"?

How about 'less-crippled driver that is still only 50% as fast as the PC driver".

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 9:23 PM

>> How about 'less-crippled driver that is still only 50% as fast as the PC driver"

How about you quit making things up?

And that's with the old :"slow" 304 drivers on Linux. The nVidia drivers typically run as fast, if not faster on Linux when configured correctly. My guess is that the new drivers automatically unredirect fullscreen windows and the other default Compiz settings meant to make things play nicely with other drivers for old POS cards.

The nVidia drivers use the same codebase on both platforms, so there's no intrinsic speed difference in the driver itself.  The same OpenGL app will commonly run faster on Linux due to better memory management and kernel design.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Any improvement in the possibility of Linux gaming gaining real traction is good news.

I'd love to use Linux for more games.

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 11:13 PM

Yes, the Optimus point is one that a large number of people seem to gloss over, and as for SS3, I know, but still. Source games are just horrible for benchmarking.

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