Nvidia Driver versions?

by Patrick Krenz   Last Updated September 15, 2019 01:02 AM

I've looked all over and can't find any reason as to why or how Nvidia names their drivers. for example they have a 330.xxx/340.xxx series that are current but also a 300.xxx and i've found that they aren't always release in order by number.

Here's an example on there site with version and release date

331.38 - January 13

334.16 - Feb 7

331.49 - Feb 18

I'm really confused about what driver to actually go with, a few different series versions seem to work adequately and I just want to have an understanding of it and what the best option to work from would be. I really appreciate any information

Answers 2

The choices:

  1. You have a version 304.117 named as NVidia binary X.Org driver ('current' driver) in the Ubuntu Software Center. I'd say - use it if you can get it to run, it is likely to stay where you put it.

  2. https://launchpad.net/~xorg-edgers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa - this may well work, but also break at times. e.g. it broke on 2014-07-10 for me as there was some kind of change in the development build - This is what is currently worked on for Ubuntu.

  3. What you download at nvidia.com - likely to be the very latest there is for nvidia GPU's. But also likely to break at updates, if the updates involve changing things that the driver depends on. Just make sure you check that the driver is for your hardware.

  4. The 'Noveau' driver - cannot comment thoroughly / seems to get in the way for the above.

August 21, 2014 23:16 PM

I agree that Nvidia driver versions are confusing, since 4xx Nvidia have introduced the concept of Long Lived, Short Lived and Beta branches, hopefully this will help make things a bit clearer. There are a few rules of thumb that can help you:

  1. Major version numbers are branches (eg 430.x is the 430 branch).
  2. Branches with higher numbers are newer (435 is newer than 430).
  3. A number of different branches may be getting updates concurrently (at the time of writing both the 430 and 435 branches are being updated).
  4. Some branches are Long Lived (430) and some branches are Short Lived (435) .
  5. Long Lived branches will get updates for a longer period than Short Lived branches (this is very similar to how LTS vs non LTS Ubuntu releases work).
  6. Long Lived and Short Lived are not a measure of stability they are a measure of how long the branch will receive updates.

Given the list above you can see that it makes sense to think about Nvidia driver versions like you think about Ubuntu LTS versions. Some people choose to stick with Long Lived (LTS) branches so that they don't need to be upgrading all the time (and possibly they are more stable?). Other people want the latest and greatest so they install the latest Short Lived branch, this is like running Ubuntu interim releases.

Like with Ubuntu LTS releases sometimes the Long Lived branch is the latest branch available.

When it comes to release cadence things are not as clear. I am not sure if there is a fixed number of Short Lived branches between a Long Lived branch or not. I also don't know if there is a regular release cadence.

This nvidia devtalkforum post suggests the following:

  1. There is a new branch every 3 months
  2. Releases alternate between Long Lived and Short Lived branches
  3. Short Lived branches are supported for 3 months
  4. Long Lived branches are supported for 6 months

I have not seen this actually confirmed by Nvidia themselves though.

In terms of branch numbering it looks like Long Lived branch use even numbers while Short Lived branches use odd numbers.

There are also Beta branches (eg 418) where cutting edge features are available. These seem to be relatively stable and widely used.

You can find the latest releases listed on this page: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/drivers/unix/. You can find the historical list of releases and release dates here: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/drivers/unix/linux-amd64-display-archive/.

The following links provide more information:

Branch types in the 4xx series

  • Long Lived Branches: 410, 430
  • Short Lived Branches: 415, 435
  • Long Lived Beta Branches: 418
September 15, 2019 00:54 AM

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