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Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers

Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers

Ambient Occlusion can now be switched on and off in Nvidia's ForceWare 182.50 driver.

It’s always a treat to be able to whack up the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering sliders on older games that need smoothing out, and now Nvidia has added another feature to its ForceWare drivers that could add some more eye candy to older games. The new feature is Ambient Occlusion, which is already enabled by default in some games, including Crysis, but isn’t in others, such as Half-Life 2.

Ambient Occlusion is now available as a switchable function in the control panel of Nvidia’s latest ForceWare 182.50 WHQL drivers, which were released today. The idea is that it makes the lighting in a scene much more realistic, revealing soft shadows and finer detail that may have been previously invisible.

Nvidia’s senior product manager, Jason Paul, explained to us that "if you look at the room that you’re sitting in, and you look up in the corner of the room, you may notice that the light is slightly less intense than it is along other portions of the wall. One of the physical properties of light is that when there are objects that are blocking or occluding nearby objects, even if it’s not casting a direct shadow, it blocks out some of the global or ambient light in the environment.”

By enabling Ambient Occlusion, you replicate the effect of light occlusion, creating soft shadows where a wall meets a ceiling, and around objects that are attached to walls. You can see the effect in the screenshots below. Take the Half-Life 2 screenshots, for example. With Ambient Occlusion enabled you can see a soft shadow around the phone on the wall, and in the corners of the walls.

Ambient Occlusion can also reveal finer detail around objects that would usually occlude lots of light. Nvidia gives the example of grassy terrain, where the blades of grass are much more clearly defined when their occluding properties are revealed. You can see this demonstrated in the screenshots from World of Conflict below.

Of course, no visual eye candy comes free, and Nvidia admits that Ambient Occlusion will cost you in terms of frame rates. “Ambient Occlusion is not a free activity,” says Paul, adding that “generally, we’re seeing [a frame rate hit] in the range of 20 to 40 percent to enable this feature.” However, he points out that if you’re playing Half-Life 2 on a decent graphics card, then you’ll already have plenty of frames in the bank that you could use to enable the feature and still have “a seamless gaming experience.”

Nvidia notes a number of games that can be enhanced by enabling Ambient Occlusion in the control panel, which include Company of Heroes, World in Conflict, Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft and Mirror’s Edge.

As well as this, the ForceWare 182.50 driver also features a number of bug fixes and performance improvements, which are detailed in the release notes.

Is Ambient Occlusion a worthwhile feature to enable on games that don’t natively support it, or would you rather have a faster frame rate than a few extra soft shadows? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

Update: As some of you have pointed out in the forums, Ambient Occlusion is included in the ForceWare 185.65 BETA control panel and not, in fact, in the WHQL 182.50 control panel. You can download Nvidia's BETA drivers from here.

Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers
Half-Life 2 - Ambient Occlusion is disabled on the left and enabled on the right

Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers
World in Conflict - Ambient Occlusion is disabled on the left and enabled on the right

Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers Nvidia releases ForceWare 182.50 drivers
Mirror's Edge - Ambient Occlusion is disabled on the left and enabled on the right

23 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
C-Sniper 2nd April 2009, 17:43 Quote
Even for a small change it can definitely make a difference. However, i think that in this case the change is too small for someone to notice in a fast paced game.

--edit--
Just noticed the WIC has some problems with the tree shadows. Seems as if they still have somethings to work out
perplekks45 2nd April 2009, 18:24 Quote
What do you mean? The shadow that is cast over the tree in front of it? :)

It makes quite a difference and I'll give it a try in HL2 but as soon as frame rates are below 40 on average this means you can easily slip in the U30 area and as with many features it's not worth it in my opinion.
p3n 2nd April 2009, 18:58 Quote
Hmmm looks fun, havent updated in a while so what the hell :p
wuyanxu 2nd April 2009, 18:58 Quote
185.65 Beta also released on nvidia site, with improved performance from 182 series.

will test them out on next restart.....
MiNiMaL_FuSS 2nd April 2009, 19:04 Quote
i like it.
Jenny_Y8S 2nd April 2009, 19:29 Quote
Why link to a US version of the Vista 32 drivers?

Surely the international (UK) drivers would make more sense? And I suspect a lot of bit-tech readers will be on Vista 64
robyholmes 2nd April 2009, 19:40 Quote
Is it just me or does the 182.50 64bit version not have it? I have Vista 64bit and Geforce 8800 Ultra, and it isn't in the options? Is this not for my GPU or only 32bit? Also any feedback on the 185.65 drivers? Do they have this feature?
robyholmes 2nd April 2009, 19:46 Quote
Are you sure this is in 182.50. Its not commented anywhere, but has been added to 185.65. That is why its missing from mine?
DriftCarl 2nd April 2009, 20:02 Quote
Just had a look around in my room before i looked at the pics, I noticed the slightly darker corners of the room even though the light isnt being blocked. then I looked at the screenshots and understand completly what it does. Maybe a small change and hardly noticable, but its a huge step to making video games more realistic.
B1GBUD 2nd April 2009, 20:13 Quote
Any sign of Windows 7 64bit drivers?
DarkLord7854 2nd April 2009, 20:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Any sign of Windows 7 64bit drivers?

Just install the 64bit vista ones
thehippoz 2nd April 2009, 21:40 Quote
I've found a good set of drivers for vista 64 and been using those for everything.. they suck for benching in vantage or 3dmark.. but in games and video out to the hd / iq is good and the performance is above what I need at 1080p even on newer games like fear 2.. it's the 177.83's

just beat fear 2 other night.. game looked really nice at 8q- this stuff with the shadows sounds interesting- but I found if you force 8q aa 16x af and turn off the texture filtering optimizations in control panel, hardware clamp, quality, multisample, and don't use threaded optimization, vsync on with triple buffering, gamma correction on.. games look amazing and immersive compared to 4x aa default everything most peeps run.. tomb raider underworld is a perfect example of the 8q ownage- same as mass effect.. witcher even looks sick and can handle the 16q on a 200 series.. it's really the difference between looking at the game and saying nice textures and 'holy $#%', nice when what your seeing is what you built the thing for =]

I know I've talked alot of smack about nvidia- it's not because the hardware is crap though, it's everything else that's a mess!~ running a gtx 260 (the 192) oc'd on a e6600@3.3.. fear was too new and wasn't in the driver menu- had to add it into the control panel to make the tweaks.. you don't really need nvidias optimizations from driver to driver if your setup is fast enough- and alot of times.. you've probably noticed this with older stuff.. running the older drivers and bios can get you better performance as well..

this is where my tin foil hat comes in.. lol so bear with me.. I think companys like nvidia sabotage the newer drivers to work well on the current boards and stick a monkey wrench in the older (via used to do this too, but via arena would keep some of the older drivers around)- if you can find the right drivers for your hardware that work best- keep em on backup if you plan to not upgrade.. just a heads up to vista 64 users on the 177.83's- the iq is good which is all I care about on my gaming rig.. not sure about sli performance though (only run single card)
cpemma 2nd April 2009, 22:19 Quote
Took me four goes to get an uncorrupt copy of the Vista32 version from the UK site, though the speed at over 2Gibs was a bit splendid.
Zurechial 2nd April 2009, 22:59 Quote
Is it just me or is there no ambient occlusion mapping in the 182.50 drivers?

It seems to me that it's only in the 185.65 beta vista drivers.

I installed 182.50 and can see no mention of AOM in the control panel anywhere, nor, tellingly, in the release notes.

It *is* however mentioned in the release notes for the 185.65 vista beta drivers.

182.50:
http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_182.50_whql.html

185.65 (XP):
http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_185.65_beta.html

185.65(Vista x64):
http://www.nvidia.com/object/winvista_x64_185.65_beta.html

Or have I missed something?

I'll install the XP beta drivers and see if the AOM option is there.

EDIT:
====
Sorry to robyholmes above, didn't see your posts - Same content as mine, basically.
zimbloggy 3rd April 2009, 03:00 Quote
yeah i downloaded the latest for xp, but ambient occlusion isn't mentioned anywhere.
Saivert 3rd April 2009, 03:57 Quote
Ambient Occlusion is only available for Vista
bubsterboo 3rd April 2009, 09:47 Quote
The 185.65 beta for vista x64 won't install for me. I get a BSOD during installation. Reboot, the control panel is missing. Tried reinstalling the same driver again, this time it doesn't BSOD. Reboot, nothings changed.

So I went back to 182.50.
I wanted to give this feature a go :(
liratheal 3rd April 2009, 11:40 Quote
HL2 example looks shite.

At the angle that you're supposedly looking at it, given that it's in doors and likely to be overhead lighting, the phone box shadow would not get lighter as it gets closer to the phone box.

Also, I think the 'darkness' is over the top on all wall corner examples shown - If I look at my corner it is not black. Darker, but not black. Looks like someone's gone crazy with some sharpies.

Foliage looks fine, though.
kenco_uk 3rd April 2009, 14:19 Quote
Vista x64 185.66 beta - I can't seem to find 185.65 on the NVidia site?
robyholmes 3rd April 2009, 14:28 Quote
Basicly use laptopvideo2go.com for my drivers, they have a good system over there for new drivers and modded INF.
arcticstoat 3rd April 2009, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Vista x64 185.66 beta - I can't seem to find 185.65 on the NVidia site?

That's the one - 185.65 was up for a brief time yesterday and this morning, and now seems to have been swapped for 185.66 without any explanation!
Tim S 3rd April 2009, 16:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Vista x64 185.66 beta - I can't seem to find 185.65 on the NVidia site?

They've updated overnight... I think there was a bug that they've found (and fixed) in .66
kenco_uk 4th April 2009, 01:19 Quote
Installed 185.66 x64 beta and it seems to be working fine so far :)
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