The 256 Series will put desktops and laptops on equal footing.
Electronista reports that Nvidia is working on a set of unified drivers for both the desktop and discrete notebook GPUs. Although the Verde driver program has been somewhat successful over the years, the upcoming 256 Series will change the rules by placing both platforms on equal footing, providing features and fixes to both at the same time. Previously, notebook users had to wait on OEMs to provide updated drivers, however this method meant lagged updates and delayed features already enjoyed on the desktop.
HotHardware adds that this will certainly benefit notebook owners, allowing them to use CUDA-enabled applications that weren't available before because pre-installed notebook drivers didn't enable CUDA. The site also reports that the upcoming 256 Series will also bring features such as ambient occlusion, compatibility updates, SLI profiles for many recent games, and 3D Vision support on compatible systems.
For consumers who plan on purchasing a 3D HDTV, the new driver suite will allow compatible notebooks to connect and display 3D multimedia content (using the glasses supplied with the HDTV). There was also mention that the 256 Series may make unplayable games function correctly thanks to performance enhancements in the Nvidia 197 series drivers (over the 17x / 18x series).
Although the 256 Series drivers will be unified, they won't come in the same installation package--desktop and notebook owners will still need to download their drivers separately, but in the same timeframe. Compatible notebooks will include discrete GPUs, those with Optimus-enabled systems, and hybrids featuring Nvidia IGPs. Notebooks with multi-vendor solutions--such as Intel graphics and Nvidia graphics in one machine--will not be compatible.