Nvidia today released a new video alongside its latest 512.59 drivers detailing how the company is doing Creation of its Game Ready drivers for GeForce graphics cards. Nvidia explains the entire driver creation process from start to finish, pointing out how each driver is extensively tested to ensure a stable and high-quality product. Meanwhile, Nvidia wastes no time attacking AMD for creating “subpar” beta drivers a few times, and prides itself on not indulging in the practice.
Nvidia starts with the functionality of a GPU driver. GPU drivers are the lifeblood of the graphics engine, allowing it to communicate directly with the operating system, graphics APIs, and the games themselves. Without them, the GPU would not be able to function at all.
But the process goes deeper, Nvidia explains, since there are two different modes drivers need to access within Windows: user mode and kernel mode. User mode communicates directly with the game and operating system, while kernel mode communicates directly with the GPU and has full access to system resources.
From this point of view, GPU drivers are created with optimizations for both modes. Nvidia states that driver development is crucial for a smooth gaming experience. Driver optimization is crucial to ensure system latency is low and frame rates don’t fluctuate wildly, which also helps keep games from crashing.
Nvidia’s game-ready driver strategy began around 2014 as a faster, more streamlined way to create and release high-quality drivers for gamers. Before Nvidia created game-ready drivers, Nvidia could not produce Day-0 drivers due to its limited interaction with game development teams.
With Nvidia’s Game Ready driver strategy, Nvidia developers are in constant communication with game developers throughout the development process. Specifically, completed development builds of future games will be run by the Nvidia driver team once the development build has passed the game company’s own QA team.
Once this phase is complete, Nvidia’s own driver and QA teams will take over the development build and optimize their drivers for the game itself, improving performance and stability. Upon completion, this driver build is handed off to the game development team for future use, and the cycle begins again.
That means Nvidia will start optimizing its own graphics drivers for future titles long before a game even launches. Hopefully, by the time launch day arrives, driver stability and optimization will have matured.
But driver development doesn’t stop there. Even after a game has launched, Nvidia continues to interact with game developers to further optimize the game if needed. This is especially important when the game developers are working on future updates and future DLC content that will change how the game is programmed.
Stability testing and a quick jab at AMD
Nvidia’s testing methodology for its Game Ready drivers sounds incredibly comprehensive. It includes over 4,500 system configurations with hardware dating back to 2012 (ie Intel Sandy Bridge days). Nvidia says its Game Ready drivers are involved in over 1,000 different tests in a single day across a variety of upcoming and already launched titles. For comparison, Nvidia ran over 1.8 million hours of testing in 2021 alone.
Finally, once the Game Ready driver is polished by Nvidia, it is sent to Microsoft for testing in Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). This test includes over 1300 tests covering as much of the driver’s functionality as possible. The tests are performed using Microsoft’s own Windows Hardware Lab Kit (HLK). Upon completion, the driver receives a WHQL certification, confirming that the driver is ready and fully functional.
Nvidia really prides itself on its rigorous testing procedures, noting that it doesn’t release “underperforming” beta drivers with minimal testing. It’s a quick swipe at AMD for creating beta drivers, which the company has been doing for years.
In reality, Nvidia’s banter doesn’t really stand up. Nvidia has historically created beta drivers and occasionally needs to release “hotfix” drivers to address specific issues. AMD has also certified Radeon Adrenalin graphics drivers ready for use, as has Nvidia, although it doesn’t put every driver version through the WHQL process. In practice, that probably doesn’t matter much, since WHQL tests focus on the core features of Windows rather than gaming performance, and thus don’t change much over time. AMD typically releases beta drivers for those who are playing an important new game and want to try out additional features or bug fixes ahead of time.
Game Ready Driver 512.59
Not coincidentally, Nvidia also released one new Game Ready driver next to the video and article on driver creation. The new driver is version 512.59 and as usual includes support for new games, G-Sync compatible displays and bug fixes.
As far as games go, this is a Game Ready driver Dune: Spice Wars, a just-released real-time strategy game based on the Dune novels by Frank Herbert. The driver updates also target this Chernobyl ray tracing upgrade, JX3 online DLSS update and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunts Early Access launch.
Three more G-Sync compatible monitors have also been added: the Asus ROG XG259CM 25-inch 1080p 240Hz IPS monitor, the Galaxy VI-01 27-inch 1440p 165Hz IPS display, and the Samsung G95NA 49- Double-width 5120 x 1440 VA 240Hz gaming panel.
The 512.59 drivers also have several bug fixes:
- [RTX 3050] The driver may randomly expire and recover when using Google Chrome
- [MSI GT83VR 6RF/GT83VR 7RF/GT83 Titan 8RG] The internal notebook monitor shows a black screen after the driver update.
- Event ID 14 error logging on to Windows when the Digital Vibrance setting is adjusted
- [Vulkan]: Derivative TouchDesigner may crash when processing OpenColorIO work
- [Vulkan]: Enscape may not play correctly
- IntelliCAD can experience instability issues
- [Siemens Teamcenter / Siemens Tecnomatix]: fixes display issues when using older versions of GLSL
- [Adobe Premiere Pro]: DirectX-related crashes with newer drivers.