It’s soon time to upgrade the drivers again ! The ForceWare 180 – AKA ‘Big Bang II’ details are coming out now – here is what we’ve got.
The Big Bang II will bring four major changes : performance increases in games, support for multiple displays in SLI multi-GPU mode, ability to dedicate a GPU to PhysX computations, and SLI support for upcoming X58 Intel based boards.
The biggest change is, however, on the multi-monitor side of things – with the added feature of dual-head SLI support. Users no long have to manually disable SLI to stretch their desktop across two or more monitors. Nvidia will be offering three distinct modes :
« In full-screen 3D mode, only the “SLI focus display” will render the game and the secondary will go dark. »
« In windowed mode, you will be able to play a game in a window on both monitors up and running, although Nvidia cautions reduced acceleration in this mode. »
« In the third mode Nvidia will support full-screen SLI gaming across two monitors – in a handful of titles to start with. World in Conflict, Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, and Flight Simulator X. »
Nvidia claims that users will not be able to span most other games across two displays, but they think that is not a big downside at the moment. Not many gamers like having an inch or two of plastic bezel in the middle of their view.
Also, Nvidia mentioned that the ForceWare 180 drivers can also handle up to six monitors on an SLI system – but you will of course, need a third GPU that is not hooked up via SLI to drive more than two displays. As for PhysX, current drivers already support the same feature offered by Big Bang II but utilizing a single GPU for both physics and graphics calculation (Nvidia can also spread calculations across an SLI setup FYI) – but with the new drivers, users can dedicate a graphics card to PhysX processing entirely. You will not require to purchase a second ‘high-end’ card either, a low-end $85 9600GT will apparently prove enough for this scenario.
Nvidia has released a beta version of the 180 series drivers – however, Nvidia cautions that people using these beta drivers do not have access to all the functions and new features as they are not enabled. These beta drivers apparently offer a great deal of performance increase for Far Cry 2.
For the record, AMD/ATI has had a great implementation of multi-monitor support for CrossFire for a while now – Nvidia appears to be coming out of the woodwork and promising the same features. Subsequent releases of the ForceWare 180 series should prove to be interesting.