Nvidia has surprised us by releasing a new graphics driver for Kepler GPU users. Support for these users via the regular GeForce Game Ready Driver releases ceased last summer. A significant clue to the impetus behind this out-of-the-blue driver release is that it is headlined as a "GeForce Security Update Driver," in the release notes. Nvidia will continue to offer this level of support for Kepler users up until the end of September 2024.
The new driver for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 (all 64-bit) users is called the GeForce Security Update Driver 473.04 WHQL. A driver that covers the same set of updates, for Windows 10 and 11 users, is version 472.98 WHQL. Both drivers were made available, along with release notes on January 31. As a reminder, in case you aren't using a GeForce GPU right now, the current newest officially available GeForce Game Ready Driver, for GPU architectures following Kepler, is version 511.23.
Both new GeForce Security Update Drivers are claimed to deliver patches for "issues that may lead to multiple security impacts." In a security bulletin, published January 31, Nvidia state that the issue is "NVIDIA Omniverse Launcher contains a Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) vulnerability which can allow an unprivileged remote attacker, if they can get user to browse malicious site, to acquire access tokens allowing them to access resources in other security domains, which may lead to code execution, escalation of privileges, and impact to confidentiality and integrity."
Security patches aren't the only reasons to grab the new GeForce drivers. Both the releases, linked above, also include; added support for CUDA 11.4, added support for the GeForce RTX 2060 12GB, and offer the new Nvidia Image Sharpening resolution scaling technology. Moreover, if you download the Windows 10 version of the driver (472.98 WHQL) you will get official Windows 11 support too.
Remember this isn't a Game Ready Driver, so there are no new game optimizations in the driver builds, or none that Nvidia is telling us about. However, one shouldn't really complain, as this release is a nice surprise after the October's Game Ready Driver 496.13 WHQL arrived lacking any Kepler GPU support, as well as dropping support for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. The impending removal of Kepler GPU support from Game Ready Drivers was foretold back in May 2021, when the architecture was nine years old.
Used GPU Buyers Watch Out
With the current state of the GPU market, it is hard to get the best GPUs and this means that some PC builders and upgraders will be tempted to go for a used GPU, to make-do until something pleasant happens. We have had quite a few stories of GPU-mining activity being on the wane and the big three ramping up GPU manufacturing, so the tide will turn in this industry with its characteristic cycles, sooner or later.
The state of drivers for Kepler GPUs got some good news today, but it is obviously not a GPU family to buy into right now. Nvidia Maxwell and Pascal Architectures might also be nearing the cut-off feature/support points in coming months, so please bear support lifecycles in mind when looking for "used bargains."
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Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.