This week, NVIDIA has announced that they are ending mainstream graphics driver support for Fermi-based GeForce GPUs. Effective as of this month (i.e. immediately), all Fermi products are being moved to legacy support status, meaning they will no longer receive Game Ready driver enhancements, performance optimizations, and bugfixes. Instead, they will only receive critical bugfixes through the end of the legacy support phase in January 2019.

While the announcement mentions ‘Fermi series GeForce GPUs,’ the actual support plan specifies that mainstream driver support is limited to Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal GPUs. So presumably all Fermi products are affected.

In the same vein, also effective this month is NVIDIA dropping mainstream driver support for 32-bit operating systems, as announced in December 2017. Like Fermi, 32-bit operating systems will still receive critical security updates through January 2019. This update also encompasses GeForce Experience, which will no longer receive software updates for Windows 32-bit operating systems.

Given the current drivers, March’s version 391.35 on the Release 390 branch, this likely means that the next branch is due to release later this month, and that it will simultaneously drop support for Fermi and 32-bit operating systems.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480

In context, NVIDIA’s previous architecture retirement came in March 2014, when their D3D10 Tesla architecture GPUs were moved to legacy status after around 8 years of support. And with this week’s announcement, Fermi has received mainstream support for around the same amount of time, marking the beginning of the end for NVIDIA's first D3D11-class GPU architecture.

However it's interesting to note that Fermi's legacy support window will end up being a lot shorter than Tesla's, stretching for just ten months versus two years for Tesla's. This may be a distinction that proves important, as complex and highly privileged video drivers have been an ongoing source of security vulnerabilities - including as recently as this year in NVIDIA's case. So while the vast majority of Fermi cards have been retired, for any that remain (particularly those in Internet-connected machines) the end of security updates is not a trivial matter.

In comparison, AMD’s GPUs contemporaneous to Fermi were moved to legacy status in 2015, with all pre-Graphics Core Next architectures affected. On AMD’s side, retiring pre-GCN products meant that all their supported GPUs were DX12 capable.

For NVIDIA’s Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal architectures, Fermi was the only one not immediately supported, though the current state of DX12 on Fermi is somewhat unclear. Last summer, NVIDIA’s drivers appeared to quietly enable it, and Fermi products are listed as DX12 supported GPUs, but NVIDIA’s DX12 GPU support page still notes Fermi support is pending. But in any case, this puts the focus on D3D12 supported GPUs, comparable to how NVIDIA’s 2014 retirement of D3D10 GPUs meant retirement of all pre-D3D11 products

NVIDIA support has also posted a list of Fermi series GeForce GPUs affected by this change.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    Hmm? Google must be broken.....

    Kepler Support ends when?

    Maxwell Support ends when?

    Pascal Support ends when?

    Volta Support ends when?
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, April 8, 2018 - link

    NVIDIA doesn't have a hard lifecycle policy in place for GPU support. However no GPU family since the switch to unified shaders has been supported for less than 8 years. So that would be 2020, 2022, 2024, and who knows, respectively.
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Sunday, April 8, 2018 - link

    So.....8-10 years
    Good to know even if there is no hard lifecycle policy in place

    Hard End of Life Support policies are only as good as the Company that wrote it
  • MelvisLives - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    1000W and above PSU lines just had their sales predictions adjusted way down...
  • rocky12345 - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    I'm surprised they didn't drop Fermi along time ago. Just like AMD has done now Nvidia is also doing the same dropping 32 bit windows support. Someone should send MS a note and tell them to take the 32 bit install option away when installing windows 10. I guess it does still give the option of being able to upgrade an older win 8.1 or win 7 32 bit install to win 10 32 bit but if there will be no real up to date drivers what's the point.
  • haukionkannel - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    There still are 32 bit Atoms... So not yet...
    But 5 more years, maybe the 32-bit version will die... Maybe...
  • wolrah - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    Pretty much the entire point of Windows 10 32 bit is non-updated drivers. It exists to run old hardware which has not seen a 64 bit driver release, or 16 bit era apps that don't run on 64 bit Windows.

    There are technically a few 32 bit Intel CPUs that are still supported to some extent, but anyone trying to actually use them as a desktop system is insane.

    Of course in either case I say good riddance, anyone who still feels that they "need" to run 32 bit drivers or 16 bit apps is someone who's been ignoring the writing on the wall for over a decade that they need to replace their ancient trash. It's long past time to cut them off and force them to stop being cheap.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    And if you have mission critical software that can't easily be replaced, VMs. The underlying OS should definitely be 64-bit, at least on semi-modern hardware.
  • DanNeely - Sunday, April 8, 2018 - link

    In the ideal case yes, but a lot of embedded/industrial/scientific control systems need more direct access to raw hardware than you can get in a VM. If you as the IT guy stamp your feet and try insisting to your bosses that a perfectly working six to eight figure piece of equipment needs to be replaced because you don't want to deal with the crappy old computer it runs on *something* will be replaced. The odds are overwhelmingly high it won't be the hardware though. Even in the low five figure range you'd be fighting a very uphill battle to retire it as long as it still worked.
  • deepblue08 - Saturday, April 7, 2018 - link

    It was a great card for it's time, except that it ran at absolutely insane temperatures. Mine died after 2 years, although my gaming sessions during that time were quite insane in length as well.

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