What is the different between the regular (390.x) official NVIDIA driver and the beta (396.x) driver


iam wondering what is the difference between the official NVIDIA GeForce driver branch 390.x and the beta branch 396.x?

I know the beta drivers contain newer features but are not considered stable but i do not understand the versioning scheme.

My question is: does the beta driver get stable at some time (i.e. does the 396.x branch get stable) or does the regular driver always keep their versioniong scheme (390.x) but get features added from the 396.x branch over time? And if yes, how long does it usually take until features from the beta driver get added to the regular driver?

I think you’ll be better off asking such questions on the Nvidia Forums.
AFAIK every beta release eventually becomes either a “long-lived” or a “short-lived” release: for the current situation please see https://devtalk.nvidia.com/default/topic/533434/linux/current-graphics-driver-releases/
So the 396.x is actually a short lived release with the 396.54.
Apparently a “short-lived” release is supported for something like 3 months, while a “long-lived” one apparently is supported for 6 months or a little more.

Ok thanks.

So, when do the features of the short live releases reach the long live releases? And do the long live releases always stay on version 390.x and the short live releases always on 396.x no matter which features they have?

Basically i want to find out which features of the short live releases are included in the long live releases and when such features get transfered.
I.e. if a long live release has feature parity with an (older) short live release only when the version number is identical (when 396.x is the [new] versioning scheme for the long live releases)

No, 396.x will never become a long-lived release. After 3 months or so a new short-lived release will appear (I cannot see into the future, but let’s say it will be named 398.x??) and 396.x will not be maintained anymore.
After another 3 months or so a new long-lived release may appear, let’s say it will be named 400.x something (but, as written, I cannot see into the future neither can Nvidia employees apparently…). My understanding is that that 400.x (say) long-lived may have most if not all the features of the 396 and 398 (but take that only as an example to illustrate the concept).
Occasionally a long-lived release might become a “Legacy” release if it is the last release to support a line of GPUs. My understanding is that the 390.x will become a legacy release sooner or later since it is apparently the last one to support Fermi chips (please see https://devtalk.nvidia.com/default/topic/1032650/linux/unix-graphics-feature-deprecation-schedule/post/5253726/#5253726 )

thank you, that was very helpful.