Home / Gaming / Nvidia fixes G-Sync refresh rate bug, adds VR SLI support to OpenGL

Nvidia fixes G-Sync refresh rate bug, adds VR SLI support to OpenGL

Two new announcements from the Team Green front as we head into the holidays. Nvidia’s 361.43 driver has just dropped, with two significant updates inside it, though only one will be of immediate benefit to customers. First, Nvidia has fixed the driver bug that caused abnormally high power consumption at high refresh rates when using Maxwell cards. This should prevent the issue we documented earlier this year where power consumption spiked at higher refresh rates.

Note: This issue was initially reported as affecting G-Sync monitors and we saw no sign of a problem with a 144KHz non-G-Sync display. Other readers, however, reported that they had problems and Nvidia’s bug report doesn’t mention G-Sync specifically. Regardless, this driver (Windows 10 / Windows 7/8/8.1) should solve the problem.

The other improvement looks farther down the road to OpenGL and VR support. Nvidia has introduced a custom OpenGL extension, “GL_NVX_linked_gpu_multicast,” that can accelerate HMD rendering and boost performance by up to 1.7x. The company states that Autodesk VRED Professional 2016 SR1-SP4 has already integrated the capability and explains the new extension as follows:

“With the driver in the new multicast mode, all OpenGL operations that are not related to the extension are broadcast to all GPUs in the SLI group. Allocations are mirrored, data uploads are broadcast, and rendering commands are executed on all GPUs. This means that without the use of the special functionality in the new multicast extension, all GPUs are executing the same work on the same data.”

SLI performance boost

SLI is important to VR because it allows the system to dedicate one GPU to each eye, rather than rendering right-left-right-left in quick succession. What this new Nvidia extension does is allow the system to upload the same scene to two different graphics cards simultaneously without incurring additional overhead.

Nvidia’s DesignWorks VR and GameWorks VR SDK contain additional documentation and some code samples to showcase how these functions work. We’re seeing both AMD and Nvidia up their VR game as Oculus and other solutions move towards shipping. VR is expected to dominate the gaming conversation in 2016, even if actual titles and experiences remain thin on the ground.

Both AMD and Nvidia have talked up multi-GPU support as important to a premium VR experience, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the next 12-18 months. Because VR rendering alternates between eyes on a single-GPU, it’s possible that we’ll see situations where it’s better to choose two cheaper, somewhat slower cards for VR gaming as opposed to a single high-end GPU. Historically, the price curve tends to favor this solution, provided that micro-stutter is kept under control (the difficulty in doing this under DX11 is also part of why multi-GPUs have remained fairly niche).

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