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CUDA Support Issues on Current Laptops
Short version: Before you purchase a new laptop make sure to thoroughly research the CUDA support and ability to upgrade graphics drivers. Do you have to use OEM drivers or can you install drivers directly from NVIDIA? Long version: For those interested in CUDA on a newer laptop, or those interested in purchasing a new laptop because it claims to support CUDA, a warning: Lack of support from your laptop manufacturer may make it difficult to dive right in to CUDA programming in Mathematica 8. (So don't blame WRI, or even NVIDIA, if/when it doesn't work!!!) Based on what I've learned, the warning is especially valid for machines with some sort of switchable graphics. Why? Drivers for these systems are a combination of Intel and (in my case) NVIDIA drivers, and a lot of tweaks go into making them play nice together. As such, the NVIDIA drivers currently packaged in OEM laptop drivers (from companies like Dell, Sony, Acer, etc.) are often way out of date in terms of CUDA version support. Even more frustrating is the fact that these companies appear unconcerned with maintaining updated graphics drivers and CUDA support. I say this given that they continue to sell supposedly CUDA compliant machines---ok, yeah, but it's CUDA version 2 or 2.2. (These versions are waaaay out of date in CUDA land.) **I'm not aware of Apple's CUDA support, but presume it's probably better.** Aren't there some workarounds? Not really unless you are willing to try either: (1) bios hacks (so you can shut switchable graphics off completely and force the NVIDIA driver to be used full time). Windows *might* then let you install the new version of the appropriate driver. Of course, you might also void your warranty and/or brick your machine. Great combo! :D (2) hacking together newer versions of Intel and NVIDIA drivers for your machine, or trying hacked driver packages produced by others and downloaded from shady corners of the web. This is also PITA because you'll have to deal with driver signing on 64-bit versions of Windows. -RG FYI: I've been using the last two prereleases of Mathematica v8 and haven't been able to get any version of CUDA working on my brand new Sony Z12 laptop. I love the laptop overall---check the specs on these things and you'll see why---but, after all this hassle, I wish I'd just gone with a new MacBook Pro or at least Googled Sony Z CUDA Support prior to ordering.