Feature Articles

Release 180 Drivers Sneak Peek - SLI Multi-Monitor, Dedicated PhysX & More!

Driver Highlights, Performance Improvements & SLI on Intel X58

Release 180 Driver Highlights

New drivers normally fix past issues, provide support for newer hardware and of course the occasional performance tweaks. Sometimes there are exceptions to this, especially when moving from one graphics architecture to a new one, new features software features might get implemented too. Then there are rarer occasions when there are no new hardware leaps, but the drivers get quite a significant boost nonetheless. And this last scenario is exactly what all the NVIDIA owners would be enjoying quite shortly with the upcoming ForceWare Release 180 drivers.

To sum up the new drivers, here are its four key highlights:-

  • Performance Improvements (available from the beta release)
  • SLI support on Intel X58 motherboards (available from the beta release)
  • Dedicated GPU for PhysX (available upon official driver release)
  • SLI Multi-Monitor support (available upon official driver release)

Available as a beta from today, Release version 180.42 primarily to addresses the circulation of the brand new FarCry 2 game and to bolster its performance. Thanks to the tweaks made, it benefits some other games as well, but don't be surprised if you don't see any improvements since it will depend on what graphics card you've got and the games you play as well. Here's a sample of NVIDIA's internal testing estimates on performance improvements with the upcoming drivers:-

The drivers aren't gold status until later in November (tentatively on the 17th) and it's quite certain there will be further updates till official release. But if you're on FarCry 2, this new set of drivers should help you get more out of your NVIDIA card for now.

We won't be evaluating the performance impact of the new drivers today since better builds will be out shortly, so we'll wait out till the final release comes about. The real meat of the Release 180 drivers isn't about the performance improvements and as you know Hardware Zone by now, we're a lot more interested in the entire experience, not just the numbers and hence this update article. Read on for our inputs on the new features supported.


NVIDIA SLI on Intel X58 Chipsets

Two months ago during NVISION, we've provided a full page update on the state of SLI support on the upcoming Intel X58 platform motherboards. Nothing has changed since then and all that we mentioned holds true. What's new now is the Release 180 driver will officially enable support for SLI on these new Intel boards and the support is found even on the beta drivers. Up to 3-way SLI is supported on this new platform, but remember only certified boards will have SLI support. For more in-depth information and SLI configuration options, we encourage you to check out our previous article on these matters .

For really premium X58 boards and workstation class variants, you'll see the board paired with one or two nForce 200 SLI chips to enable up to four full PCIe 2.0 x16 slots. But since NVIDIA supports only up to 3-way SLI, the fourth slot is for other high-end task oriented expansion cards like RAID adaptors or even another graphics card to dedicate it to physics processing tasks.