Nvidia “doubles” performance of Linux drivers

It’s not exactly the hottest battleground in the war between graphics giants Nvidia and AMD-ATI, but it looks like Nvidia, which already had a nice lead, has pulled far ahead of ATI in the Linux market.

The Linux operating system, including variants such as Ubuntu and Android, is rapidly rising in popularity. However, most commercial software such as word processors and games, are not usually tailored for Linux operating systems. The community, as a result, has developed its own games and software for use on the open source platform.

However, with Windows 8 starting a new trend of tightly-controlling the applications that can be installed on a PC, Linux is being increasingly seen as a safe and viable option of deployment by game makers and other software makers.

Game maker Valve recently said Linux may be an option worth looking for, especially if the PC is turned into a ‘walled garden’ where software makers have to pay Microsoft to have their applications installed on Windows-powered devices.

It is now testing its games on Linux and recently said its flagship Team Fortress 2 is now fully Linux-compatible, along with about two dozen other Steam titles.

Nvidia’s move to release more powerful drivers for Linux can also be seen in this context. Drivers are software that help the operating system utilize the power of the graphics processor efficiently. Both Nvidia and ATI have their own drivers, including for Linux. However, the drivers are often faulted for being less efficient than their Windows counterparts, with Nvidia drivers being given a better rating comparatively.

The lead may now be even greater.

The new drivers “double the performance and dramatically reduce game loading times for those gaming on the Linux operating system,” Nvidia said.

“The result of almost a year of development by NVIDIA, Valve and other game developers, the new GeForce R310 drivers are designed to give GeForce customers the best possible Linux-based PC gaming experience – and showcase the enormous potential of the world’s biggest open-source operating system,” it said.

The new R310 drivers were also thoroughly tested with Steam for Linux, the extension of Valve’s phenomenally popular Steam gaming platform that officially opened to gamers starting today, it said.

“With this release, NVIDIA has managed to increase the overall gaming performance under Linux,” said Doug Lombardi, vice president of marketing at Valve. “NVIDIA took an unquestioned leadership position developing R310 drivers with us and other studios to provide an absolutely unequalled solution for Linux gamers.”

The R310 drivers support the newest GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs. Gamers with previous generation GeForce GPUs, including the 8800 GT and above, are encouraged to download these new drivers as well, the firm said.