Nvidia Driver Whoas...
March 06, 2019

Here's a radical thought. Instead of pushing raytracing like it's going out of style Nvidia could create a user friendly software platform that maintains their "gaming ready" software on machines that need it, opposed to every system with their hardware installed. My industrious and most reliable 1030 endears me to the brand in spite of their attempts to stifle its outstanding Flop-Per-Dollar performance. It's a new metric, totally off the cuff.

RTX serves Nvidia and no one else. Not the industry at large - it's the "something that AMD can't do" jab, and it attends their attention hungry egos. Nvidia well knows that the out of mind brand tends not to receive cash flow - so they keep a healthy smiling face on their outward interactions, even when they're snarking and sniping their own products down. The 1660 is a solid upgrade path, and I'd argue that it would do better if RTX wasn't in the way eating up their time and budget.

That said it did give them an excuse to nearly double the prices of their top tier products. Yessir, gotta have those excuses, am I right? I know I am, and Nvidia is equally as certain that they know what's best for your gaming life. At least, for their part in it. Which is what brings me to my point.

Vulkan was an ultimately self serving attempt at outreach: Improvement by inclusion, and also a mindful move to draw attention away from their lackluster mid-tier products. Vega hadn't hit market by that point, and AMD has yet to be able to compete directly with Nvidia at top tier. We don't know when - or if - that will happen again. That said it was outreach and has proved the point that drivers can do better. Nvidia would rather address this with a more "heroic" approach, coming to our rescue whenever those FPS don't quite meet our expectations, whatever those are.

On the hardware side, Intel looks to benefit most from up and coming EUV chipmaking technologies, due to roll out this year. That means we won't see product for another year at earliest, possibly longer. Intel and AMD have to keep our interest and those improvements rolling out in the meantime. I can't imagine, frankly, though I could try. That's what this is about, after all.

You see, software end of GPUs so often gets the short end of the stick that it's boring to note, yet incredibly important. Could you imagine the Switch requiring a software update for its graphic drivers every time a brand spanking new game was released? By some technological miracle everything is streamlined before it hits our delectable little consoles... it boggles the mind.

These driver end tweaks do offer improvements, but they don't have to. Players obsessed over single frame differences are going to do that anyway, and my thought is Nvidia could improve their driver delivery model altogether and leverage all that precious personal data they gather under our noses. I'm not suggesting that Nvidia is doing something for nothing, not at all.

Consider that either Nvidia is catering to these games directly or their drivers aren't up to snuff. Or both. Why should their drivers absolutely need a tweak for the latest and greatest, except to slap that label on them every time in a desperate fight over mindspace? That's the answer, of course, and it may sound very cynical for me to write it.

I've been an Nvidia user for decades, but like most I'm fickle, and I'll buy the product that gives me the experience I can afford and desire. In my small form factor PC only a low profile GPU would do, and the 1030 had the form and the price, too. It's still a beefy little card - yes, I got the GDD5 version, and for 30 watts it hauls some serious tail. Just ask a 750 Ti about it sometime.

I can almost hear the bickering inside the walls of Nvidia's Corporate headquarters about priority, but there's one thing for certain... when my driver won't install, I get worked up enough about it to chirp into the social media sphere. I'll admit it - you won this one, green logo guys.

But before I wrap up, let's imagine that they could use all that MIPs, chips and dips to populate the Geforce Experience with more titles that are served better by relevant software updates. They could save themselves some bandwidth and myself some time when their driver downloads but won't install - yes, the common consensus is that the "Experience" bites right now. That's damaging to Nvidia's brand, just as backbiting and sabotage of products.

I'd wager to say that Nvidia is in a state of burnout, and releasing RTX and its associated technologies was a way of staving off focus on the next big GPU. Yes, I mean to say that Turing wasn't ready - or perhaps optimal - for this move. It was premature, and though it does the job of making tops spin and flowers toil, it does nothing to forward the cause of raytracing. Why not develop a more wide reaching tool that benefits a wider range of Nvidia products?

Because doing that won't stir the pot, and as we know, there's nothing quite as loud as a kid annoyed online.

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