Today we announced the first driver release from our new Release 256 family of drivers
. We’re pretty excited, and our software team implemented some new features that I think our GeForce customers will really enjoy as well. Version 257.15 beta can be downloaded here for GeForce and ION GPUs (a WHQL-certified version is planned for early June).

For those of you who own GTX 400 GPUs, you probably noticed that this driver release comes just six weeks after the GTX 400 launch driver. Good news: We’ve already achieved some performance optimizations. Here are a few examples of games which see the best improvement with the new driver:

New Performance for GTX 400 Series
Now, before I dive into the new features, I wanted to let our notebook customers know that this driver is also available for notebook PCs, including those with NVIDIA Optimus technology. Not long ago, I told you about desktop and notebook releases being aligned starting with Release 256. So, all Windows 7 and Windows Vista desktop releases will now be accompanied by a same version Verde Notebook Driver.

New Release 256 Features
Blu-ray 3D – It’s pretty clear that Hollywood is going 3D. So, it makes sense that now 3D movies are making their way to Blu-ray disc thanks to NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. NVIDIA is the first to enable Blu-ray 3D acceleration for the PC. Check out the full system requirements here. The first 3D Blu-ray movie is due out June 1st.

NVIDIA First with Drivers for Blu-ray 3D

  • New Visual Quality Modes
  • We are constantly striving to make the latest PC games not only run faster and smoother, but also look better. With this release, we’re offering new settings in the NVIDIA Control Panel for 3-way SLI customers that enable 48x SLI Antialiasing (96x for 3-way GTX 400 series PCs). We also added a new higher quality ambient occlusion setting in the NVIDIA Control Panel for more realistic scene shading. New Multi-GPU Setup Controls
  • If you’ve got more than one NVIDIA GPU in your PC, you want to have detailed controls for them in order to get the most out of your PC. Release 256 adds a new SLI and PhysX configuration page that not only makes setup easy but also gives you more control over how your GPUs are configured. So, if you want to pair two GPUs in SLI mode and dedicate the third to PhysX, no problem. If you want to activate all three of your displays and then optimize for highest performance in that configuration—you’re golden. The new page even has real-time visual feedback. And, finally, for those customers that want to select which GPU their CUDA applications run on, the Manage 3D Settings page now has a ‘CUDA – GPUs’ option to enable this.

CUDA 3.1 – Release 256 drivers add support for applications built using CUDA Toolkit 3.1. CUDA Toolkit 3.1 enables a significant performance increase for double precision math operations.

OpenGL 4.0 – While we currently support OpenGL 4.0 in developer drivers, Release 256, brings full OpenGL 4.0 support to our unified consumer drivers. GeForce GTX 400 series customers can immediately take advantage of the tessellation support in OpenGL 4.0 by downloading Unigine’s latest release of their Heaven benchmark, version 2.1, which adds support for OpenGL 4.0 tessellation and 3D Vision technology. GeForce GTX 400 series GPUs are tessellation monsters, feed them highly tessellated objects and they’ll chew them up at an incredible speed. Download Unigine Heaven 2.1 today and give OpenGL tessellation and 3D a try.

Introducing the Release 256 Family of Drivers - Graphics Cards 2

What’s Next for Release 256?
3D Vision Surround – Like you, we really wanted support for NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround in this first release, however, our software team is currently making some final improvements to the driver. As Tom mentioned here, Surround will be ready in the second release that is targeted for the end of June. We look forward to introducing 3D Vision Surround to you next month!

Grab them from here!