Far Cry build 1318 - Patch 1.2 Shader Model 3 enabled on the GeForce 6800 Series !
As you know Shader model 2 versus 3 has been widely discussed among new graphics cards. Let's quickly sum it up. If you program or play computer games or even recently attempted to purchase a video card, then you will have no doubt heard the terms "Vertex Shader" and "Pixel Shader". NVIDIA recently introduces Shader model 3 in their GeForce 6800 Series where ATI witrh their x800 series stuck to Shader model 2.
What is a Shader ? Vertex and pixel shaders allows graphics and game developers to create photorealistic graphics on the PC. And with DirectX, programmers have access to an assembly language interface to the transformation and lighting hardware (vertex shaders) and the pixel pipeline (pixel shaders).
All real-time 3D graphics are built from component triangles. Each of the three vertices of every triangle contains information about its position, color, lighting, texture, and other parameters. This information is used to construct the scene. The lighting effects used in 3D graphics have a large effect on the quality, realism, and complexity of the graphics, and the amount of computing power used to produce them. It is possible to generate lighting effects in a dynamic, as-you-watch manner. Each shader is basically nothing more than a relatively small program executed on the graphics processor to control either vertex or pixel processing.
Far Cry uses Shader technology bigtime !
The discussion we noticed a lot from ATI customers are like these "Hey, who needs Pixel and Vertex Shader 3.0?; there is not one game that supports it and it that won't happen this year also". So that fact has now been changed a little. ATi proclaims that Shader Model 3.0 is not important right now which on a certain level is very true. It's not rather important right now. Shader model 3 is not about better image quality either, it's about small performance increases. Now that alone is a valid reason to at the least consider this over the current Radeon x800 generation.
Shader Model 3.0 titles that we can expect soon: Lord of the rings; Battle for Middle-Earth, Stalker, Vampire; Bloodlines, Splinter Cell X, Driver 3, Grafan, Painkiller, Far Cry and more...
Last night I received an email from NVIDIA, they have the new FarCry patch on their FTP available for the press to test. Goodness ! I was hey .. what the hell ... Shaders 3.0 finally something to test ! So I downloaded Directx 9.0c, not yet available to the public, but use google will ya ? After installing and patching Windows towards DirectX 9.0c, and upgraded towards ForceWare 61.45 SM3 compatible we where ready to take Far Cry for a little test drive in Shader model 3 mode.
Monday the patch will be publicly available. If you grab the new patch and update everything yourself and would like to try a test-run then this is what you need to observe for the proper codepath:
The 1 equals enable there. Of course you need to select your own timedemo.
If you haven't played the demo or the game, well shame on you! Far Cry's story centers on Jack Carver, who has put a mysterious past behind him in favor of a less stressful life chartering boats in the South Pacific... or so he thinks. After delivering a female journalist to an uncharted island, Jack's boat is attacked and he subsequently finds himself stranded against a group of mercenaries, at which point his adventure begins. Graphically Far Cry is amazing; the action takes place in a huge, brightly colored environment with dense jungle style shrubbery, peacefully quiet beaches and large indoor areas. The excellent shadow effects simply bring the game to life with reflections on walls and even on your own weapons as you creep through the trees. Its like something straight out of a movie, helped along by the lighting and tight, crisp textures.
Latest reference chipset and graphics card drivers
Far Cry itself then, build version 1318 patch v1.2 - We heavily modified the system.config file to make it as hard as possible on the graphics core !
We took four different levels of the game, on each level we ran a timedemo. This is a little different compared towards our standard Far Cry time-demo so don't compare the results just yet with our reviews please.
To measure the power of the graphic's card we benchmarked in 1600x1200x32 with 16x Anisotropic filtering, because ... well that's the stuff why you spend 400 USD for right ?. At driver level we selected: Anisotropic optimizations disabled. Trilinear enabled. We did this so that we can compare the results towards ATi's x800 series later on.
This is just a quick test to show some results, nothing more. We barely had time to do anything at all .. I just got everything running fine a couple of hours ago. Here we go:
Far Cry SM3
It's impossible to play Far Cry without being completely blown away by the graphics engine; the game engine is THAT good. Volcano, Training, Regulator and Research are the different levels we submitted a timedemo on. I must add that we did give the time demo's several runs; here and there we noticed small FPS differences, but think in terms of like 1-2 FPS differences.
The SM3 performance differences between the levels are big, some levels simple make more use of shaders.The demo's provided come from CryTek and not from NVIDIA to kill of a presumtion. These levels are inside the new patch.
Hey as you can see, that's extra performance people. We measured an up to 25% (not overall) performance increase on the overall framerate which makes Shader Model 3 somewhat more interesting then it did a few weeks ago. The performance increase is level dependant though and in some level just a few percent. The NVIDIA 6800 cards obviously have room for small performance gains making the 6800 series even more interesting.
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