Dwight Diercks Q&A
FiringSquad: One of your stated goals is to deliver Windows Vista performance that is comparable to Windows XP in games. Realistically how long do you think it will take to truly accomplish this goal?
FiringSquad: When did you begin work on your drivers for Vista and how many people are involved on the project?
Dwight Diercks: We have been actively involved with Windows Vista driver development for over two and a half years. We have spent over 350 man-years of development on Windows Vista driver development.
FiringSquad: Both AMD and NVIDIA’s OpenGL drivers for Vista seem to be unpolished at this time. Is this because optimizing for OpenGL is a lower priority than D3D (after all, there are fewer OpenGL apps than D3D out there) or is coding for OpenGL more difficult in Vista than it was under Windows XP? What seems to be the holdup?
Dwight Diercks: Architecturally, Windows Vista does not impact OpenGL application performance when compared to Windows XP. We constantly measure and chart our performance on a variety of 3D applications in Windows Vista and use it to help us target future optimizations.
Keep in mind that we have been optimizing our Windows XP drivers for the past seven years, and some of that optimization came with years of driver work. We have software engineers who do nothing but figure out how to get games to run better and faster, and while some of the bottlenecks under Vista have changed, we are focusing the team on a series of optimizations that will show the biggest bang for the buck as we speak. It will take time, but NVIDIA will continue to work on optimizing our drivers to ensure maximum performance for Microsoft DirectX and OpenGL. We’re working hard to get there as soon as possible.
Optimizing drivers for any new operating system is a key focus for a core team of software engineers here at NVIDIA. We focused first on implementing the major driver model architectural changes in Windows Vista without focusing solely on performance, and that’s why our initial drivers are slower on some applications compared to Windows XP. Now, we are making sure performance optimizations are at the top of our list. We expect to deliver frequent driver updates over the next few months that will show strides in performance for top 3D applications and games. Over the next couple of weeks we are going to have more details on our driver release plan, and we will be happy to share these dates with Firing Squad readers and end users.
FiringSquad: When do you expect to have WHQL-certified drivers for the GeForce 8800 cards?
We estimate the WHQL driver for GeForce 8800 will be ready to release by the end of February. We are working very closely with Microsoft to finalize the WHQL certified DirectX 10 driver. Both companies are working together to ensure that the driver is certified and delivered to customers as soon as possible. After this driver, we intend to release a GeForce 7 series SLI driver in the March timeframe.
FiringSquad: Will your 32-bit Vista driver be higher priority than your 64-bit Vista driver? Are older, more prevalent, GeForce 6/7 cards given higher priority when it comes to Vista driver development than GeForce 8?
32-bit and 64-bit drivers are both equally important to NVIDIA since there are so many platforms out there that support the x64 instruction set. From an OEM perspective, we are seeing slightly more interest in 32-bit drivers than 64-bit. GeForce 6 and 7 series card are being given the same priority as GeForce 8 series.
Our reason for doing these first two ForceWare 100 releases for GeForce 8 series was that we have OEMs who require a WHQL driver in order to go into production. We have already obtained WHQL certification for two previous drivers for GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs, v96.85 and 97.46. Once we have completed the GeForce 8 series WHQL requirement, we are ensuring that we have a top to bottom driver that supports all of the hardware features in all three GPU series. I do want to point out that ForceWare Release 100 is a solid beta driver for GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs.