big picture: Nvidia’s Game Ready Drivers program is now seven years old, and the company is using the occasion to criticize AMD for offering comparatively worse software support for its products. Both companies have spent years perfecting their GPU drivers, so Intel has a lot of catching up to do when it enters the arena.
This week, Nvidia released its latest GeForce Game Ready driver with Chernobylite ray tracing support, certifications for new G-Sync monitors from Asus and Samsung, and performance optimizations for Dune: Spice Wars and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt available at early access.
Team Green took this opportunity to celebrate seven years of Game Ready driver development. The company advertises over 150 such drivers released to date with support and optimization for over 400 games. GPU drivers are an important part of the pipeline that makes PC gaming possible, according to Nvidia senior product manager Sean Pelletier. indicates that they represent a monumental development effort that continues to grow every year.
In 2021 alone, Nvidia released 20 Game Ready drivers with support for at least 75 games, as well as emerging game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine. Timely optimization for new games requires close collaboration between Nvidia engineers and game developers, as well as ongoing feedback for pre-release drivers.
In the past, Nvidia waited until a game’s launch date approached before testing new drivers. In recent years, the company has shifted to a development schedule that matches that of game development, so driver support work is usually ready just in time for those games to launch. And work on optimization often continues after the release of the game.
Testing includes a whopping 4,500 different desktop and laptop configurations, including hardware that is a decade old. Nvidia says it runs 1,000 tests a day across a variety of games, with 1.8 million testing hours recorded in 2021 alone. Every driver that passes the Nvidia test must then go through the Microsoft WHQL certification process, which includes over 1300 tests.
Nvidia also claims to be the only GPU manufacturer to go through a WHQL process with every driver, dealing a not-so-subtle blow to competitor AMD, which is notorious for releasing many beta drivers and a relatively slow pace of stable releases. Nvidia further clarifies that it does not release “poor quality beta drivers with minimal testing, not to mention multiple conflicting beta drivers branched from different branches of development that support different games and products, confusing customers.”
Of course, the remarks are not completely groundless. The latest AMD GPU drivers tend to reset Ryzen CPU overclocking settings and can even automatically enable an automatic overclocking feature called Precision Boost Overdrive. However, Nvidia has released drivers other than WHQL in the past, sometimes with equally bad results. To the credit of the company, it was fast to fix these issues, while it takes days or weeks for Team Red to come up with a solution for egregious issues.
Back in February, AMD released driver update number 22.2.2 for its RDNA 1 and RDNA 2 GPUs, with performance optimizations ranging from 10 to 24 percent in some games. At the time, Terry Macedon, Senior Director of UI Engineering at AMD, marked It’s been 20 years since the company started releasing regular driver updates.
Meanwhile, Intel based on Pat Gelsinger is trying to get its Ark the Alchemist GPUs ready to compete with AMD and Nvidia offerings. As you might expect, the main hurdle so far has been proper software support for new hardware. The success of these upcoming GPUs will largely depend on whether Intel can quickly catch up with its competitors in this area, both of whom have spent years perfecting their drivers.