Easy Question - Can the OpenGL level of a specific AMD or NVidia card be changed w/SW

I do tech support and I am getting mixed messages about if a AMD or NVidia card’s specifications say it is OpenGL 2.1 compatible, can this OpenGL level be altered by updating a driver on a PC running Windows 7.

I believe it can increased by updating a driver but customer support from NVidia says “The hardware features like Open GL , Direct X would not be altered by the drivers. They would not be upgradable by drivers or software’s.”…

I didn’t believe it and wrote back to confirm… as maybe they misunderstood the question… but support confirmed the response. So I thought the OpenGL forum maybe a better place for the correct answer!!

Basically I work for a Photoshop Plugin company and we have some customers who are running old cards showing OpenGL 2.1 compatible in the specifications and our software needs OpenGL3.0 or later. I have heard that if they update their drivers this could increase the compatibility with a later version of OpenGL but I need to confirm this and don’t buy into NVidia’s customer care response…

Thank you for any assistance provided.


Basic answer is no - if a card does not have the hardware support for something, the driver can’t do anything about it. The MESA project does have drivers to emulate the hardware so code can be made to run on a machine that does not have hardware support - but the program is using the cpu to simulate the code on the graphics card. This generally means that it is not much use in a commercial environment because if the hardware does not have a graphics card to meet you specs, odds are the cpu is too slow to run the emulator at a speed to allow an application to be functional.

Well, the situation is no so black… The driver update can upgrade the supported version of OpenGL if hardware has such capability. All AMD’s GPUs based on R600 (HD 2xxx) or later, or NVIDIA’s based on G80 (GF 8xxx) or later certainly support OpenGL 3.3 with the newest drivers.

All AMD’s GPUs based on R600 (HD 2xxx) or later, or NVIDIA’s based on G80 (GF 8xxx) or later certainly support OpenGL 3.3 with the newest drivers.

Yes, but they’ve supported those GL versions for years. You’d have to have pretty outdated drivers for new drivers to upgrade your GL version.

The point is: both G80 and R600 are very old chips. At the moment when G80 was released (late 2006.) nobody knew that several years later OpenGL 3 would appear. So, advertisements on the box for the products based on G80 probably said those were OpenGL 2 compatible cards(probably not even GL 2.1). But G80 can execute much of the GL4.3 functionality now. When OP mentioned specification it is probably something date from the time of actual GPU was released.

Thank you for the feedback. I did track down an old laptop with 2008 drivers and ran GPU Caps Viewer on it before the latest driver update and the OpenGL changed from 2.1 to 3.0. After hearing from the support group who said it was not possible… he is probably thinking with cards that are relativity new so it can be done.

Best Regards,

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