It seems ironic that after years of their monthly releases when AMD/ATI has now switched to a "when it's necessary" release schedule--something NVIDIA has been doing via official beta releases for a similar time--that the cadence of official releases from both AMD and NVIDIA seems unphased. In fact, as usual the holiday season only increased the pace of updates. The second half of 2012 and beginning of 2013 for instance gives us the following drivers:

Recent Driver Releases
NVIDIA Version Release Date AMD Version Release Date
313.95 Beta 28-Jan-2013 13.2 Beta 3 (12.100.0) 29-Jan-2013
310.90 WHQL 5-Jan-2013 13.1 WHQL (9.012.0) 17-Jan-2013
310.70 WHQL 17-Dec-2012 12.11 Beta11 (9.010.8) 4-Dec-2012
310.70 Beta 4-Dec-2012 12.11 Beta7 (9.010.8) 12-Nov-2012
310.64 Beta 28-Nov-2012 12.10 WHQL (9.002.0) 23-Oct-2012
310.61 Beta 20-Nov-2012 12.9 Beta (9.001.0) 26-Sep-2012
310.54 Beta 12-Nov-2012 12.8 WHQL (8.982.0) 14-Sep-2012
310.33 Beta 23-Oct-2012 12.6 WHQL (8.980.0) 30-Jun-2012
306.97 WHQL 10-Oct-2012 12.7 Official Beta (8.981.2.1) 27-Jun-2012
306.23 WHQL 13-Sep-2012 12.7 Beta (8.981.2) 12-Jun-2012
306.02 Beta 27-Aug-2012 12.x (9.00) 12-Jun-2012
304.79 Beta 3-Jul-2012 12.x (8.980.0) 4-Jun-2012
304.48 Beta 18-Jun-2012 Win8 Release Preview (8.972.4) 2-Jun-2012

Note the increase in NVIDIA's releases as the holiday games came out, with two or three driver updates each month for the past four months. In contrast, AMD had five beta releases in June (which were all similar and mostly looked to fix bugs not addressed in the initial beta) along with a WHQL driver, the 12.8 WHQL in September along with another beta, 12.10 WHQL in October, the 12.11 beta in December, and now the 13.1 WHQL and 13.2 beta in January. Basically, we're looking at similar total number of readily available driver releases during the same seven months, but AMD had a lot of betas early in the cycle (many related to Enduro and WIndows 8 support).

NVIDIA's latest update primarily looks to address performance issues with Crysis 3, though there are a few other recent titles like Assassin's Creed III, Black Ops II, and Far Cry 3 that may also see performance improvements. NVIDIA's release notes claim improvements of up to 65% in Crysis 3 and 24% in Assassin's Creed III, though that's with the ultra-high-end GTX 690 desktop GPU so those with lower class GPUs should temper their expectations accordingly. Interestingly, we're still seeing potential performance improvements (albeit minor) in some older titles like Civilization V, DiRT 3, Far Cry 2, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You can read the full release notes on NVIDIA's site, with the following downloads currently available (and yes, Windows XP is supported as well, but I figure few enough gamers are running that with high-end hardware that it's not worth the extra four links):

Update, 1/29/2013: There was apparently an issue with the installer on international non-English systems; NVIDIA has released a new version (313.96 instead of 313.95) to fix the problem:

313.95 Desktop Beta 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 Desktop Beta 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 Notebook Beta 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 Notebook Beta 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8

Thanks to reader SH SOTN for the heads up!

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  • Fiercé - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    ...because you just know there's someone on both sides of the aisle at AMD and nVidia making note that they're being watched, and will really push to be better as a consequence. Big wins for everybody.

    Now we just need a State Of The X article regarding large TB drives (3TB+) and the apparent abysmal success rate they have arriving in a functioning manner to customers who order them and maybe Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi and their ilk will get some steel in their spines too.
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