In the previous article, nVidia Update and Goodies, I talked about the release of a new 295.73 version driver. Now we are getting reports of nVidia Driver 295.73 causing Second Life Viewers to crash. The Firestorm/Phoenix Development team is reporting Firestorm users with GTX460 cards and 295.73 are having problems.[youtube rXKj6Kw-VFk]
This is not the first time we have had problems with nVidia 460 cards. See: nVidia Driver GTX 460 Problems.
For Those using nVidia 450 and 460 cards it is advised they roll back to driver version 285.62 WHQL.
Denny Cioc alerted me to the JIRA SH-2985 – TDR error on NVIDIA 295.73 drivers. TDR = Timeout Detection and Recovery. You may notice that Runitai Linden has marked the JITA as ‘Won’t Fix.’ That will set some shallow people off. But, the problem is not in the SL code. The problem is in the nVidia driver. Second Life is not the only game running into the problem.
NVIDIA has a thread about the 295.73 driver on their forum. See: Official WHQL NVIDIA 295.73 Display Driver Feedback Thread.
Some say the 295.73 driver gives a big boost to Skyrim performance…
I realized some time ago that I could NOT have Backyard Monsters, a Facebook Flash based game, and any SLViewer open at the same time. The video above is about problems with Firefox/Thunderbird web browsers. The problems started in 2011. NVIDIA responded to the problem in the nVidia forum. See their post of October 2011: GeForce GTX & ION Drivers – Problems.
There are a number of sites with videos that will not play in Chrome 19.0.1055.1 dev-m. I get a green square where the video should play. I can change over to IE and it plays just fine.
There is a physical problem with some GTX 460 cards. EVGA, a graphics card maker has given people filing RMA’s their new GTX 460 SC cards for US$10 and let them keep the old 460. This means there are likely to be a number of problem 460 cards going through eBay.
With my 560 I have to use either IE or Chrome to play Backyard Monsters. Firefox and Safari have problems with the game. So, I’m not surprised that the SL Viewer can have problems. I get the ‘Something Broke’ error message now and then with Chrome but, I suspect that is something on the Backyard Monsters network or server.
I have noticed that when an SLViewer crashes, I’m including TPV’s too, I have multiple applications open. If I something to get done in Second Life, I close my web browsers. I seem to have fewer problems. Sometimes I crash in 20 minutes or so and sometimes I can run crash free for hours. It’s not just which other applications I have open. From my perspective it is too chaotic to know what the problem is.
And it is not just the 450 and 460 cards having a problem. I see them on my 560 and I am reading about people with 580’s having the same problems.
I am convinced that nVidia provides far better OpenGL support then AMD/ATI. But, reviewers have pointed out that the 200, 300, and 400 series cards had physical design problems. Parts of some cards were disabled so they could make it to market. In some cases a 400 card was literally a 300 card with a minor physical fix and the disabled parts enabled.
There are no simple fixes for complex product evolving at a breakneck pace. NVIDIA is working to fix the problem.
The two best work arounds are to roll back to the 285.62 driver or 275.33 driver. Some use the 275.50 driver. Earlier drivers seem to work also.
Problems increase when you have run a Facebook Flash game or have a web browser open. So, close your web browser.
Also, Win7 users do not seem to have the problem, so one could try that upgrade path.
I’ve also seen it suggested the one set the NVidia 3D Settings/Power Management Mode to Prefer Maximum Performance in the Application Profile (as opposed to in Global Profile), which sounds like something for a laptop. But, desktops also try to conserve energy. So, it may help any system.
Whirly Fizzle, from FS/PH Dev Team, says, “[A] workaround for this appears to be to disable Hardware acceleration in the Adobe flash player settings.” I suppose this could stop a crash if Flash and an SL Viewer are running at the same time… Also, it may stop crashes if you have a viewer running in the background as I often do.
PixelProphet Lane suggests, “… the problem “Nvidia Open GL driver has lost connection” can be solved by creating a driver profile for your viewer .exe, and in there, setting your Power Management Mode from “Adaptive” (default) to “Prefer Maximum Performance”. This prevents the driver from clocking down your graphics card when the viewer is running in the background.”
Some are seeing an extremely heavy performance hit in OpenGL apps and games with Threaded Optimization set to auto or on. So, for performance you may want to set up a game profile for Second Life and disabling the option. If you fo change it, know this: if you set Threaded Optimization to off and then back to auto, games that are affected still act like its set to off. If you set Threaded Optimization to on and then back to auto, you get similar behavior with auto acting like its set to on.
Getting In Deep
Another fix is to update the graphic card’s BIOS. This is a firmware upgrade. This is not for the technically challenged or computer novice.
If you dig you can find the egghead super geek math people actually have been editing the BIOS firmware code in their cards. That’s going a bit far. But, nVidia does have BIOS update utilities that are “reasonably” easy to use. Below is a video of doing a firmware flash of the video BIOS. You can judge what’s “reasonable.” Run the video in full screen. It also will clue as to where to get the tools you need.
Be WARNED!!! Flashing your BIOS is a high risk task. If anything goes wrong it can be very difficult to recover. I suspect that for that reason you will probably not find easy ways to upgrade your video BIOS. Plus all the tools for helping you carry a disclaimer clearly stating “AT YOUR RISK.”[youtube RjLxQOIE2Lo]
If that video and warning has not run you off, the next problem is: knowing which BIOS your video card is running on. The free program GPU-Z (new version 0.5.9 out) will give you the BIOS version and will allow you to save a backup of your video BIOS with just a button click, neat.
Depending on who made your video card, there are various utilities provided by the manufactures that will give you the BIOS version. If you have an ASUS made nVidia card the utility is: SmartDoctor. My current version from GPU-Z is: 70.24.21.00.02 and from SmarDoctor: ENGTX560 VB Ver 70.24.21.00.AS10. You have to know they never make computer stuff easy…
To further complicate things manufacturers have specific upgrades for specific product numbers. I think it usually has to do with how they have implemented cooling. But, if you get the wrong product upgrade you can mess up your fan control and that can conceivably cook your video card.
If you take this path, be careful and make sure you know you have the right information.
There is no doubt there is a problem. There are some work arounds. There is no fix from nVidia at this time.
If you have a problem, report it at nVidia (Official WHQL NVIDIA 295.73 Display Driver Feedback Thread). You can use the Help->About… from the viewer to post the specs they need to under stand the problem in a useful way.
A JIRA in the Second Life system will not help.