ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Poseidon Review

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Maxwell Features

Nvidia has added a handful of new technologies that have been introduced along with the Maxwell generation GPUs. 

The Video Engine

GeForce GTX series 900 has a new display engine capable of supporting resolutions up to 5K with up to four simultaneous displays (including support for up to four 4K MST displays). GeForce GTX 960 also supports HDMI 2.0. Because of its low power operation, some potential GeForce GTX 900 users may wish to use this GPU inside their home theater PC. Therefore to satisfy the needs of this audience, one new addition that’s been added to GM200 is support for H.265 (HEVC) encoding and decoding. NVENC video engine offers native support for H.265 encode only, no decode. With the amount of 4K content expected to explode in the coming years, GM200 also adds native support for HDCP 2.2 content protection over HDMI.

DSR - Dynamic Super Resolution

Taking the 4K experience and allowing you to visualize that on a 1080P monitor is what DSR is about. It renders the game at a higher resolution and shows it in a lower one, this brings more quality to that lower resolution.


AC4 DSR 4xMSAA scaled

In general DSR works like downsampling, but it has simple user on/off control. Textures will now be sampled at higher resolutions that equates to more pixels being sampled. Then a filter is applied (13 TAP Gaussian). This high quality filter reduces or eliminates AA artifact experiences with normal down-sampling, which relies on a simpler box filter. The new feature can be activated through GeForce Experience and drivers.


BF4 DSR 4x MSAA Ultra scaled

The feature will launch with Maxwell, but it is likely that you will see this feature on older generation GPUs as well. It will have a performance hit, meaning if you downsample from UHD you will see the same performance as rendering at that resolution.

Multi Frame Sampled AA

Nvidia introduced a really nice new AA mode called MFAA – MFAA is short for Multi Frame Sampled AA. It gives the same quality as 4x MSAA but has only the performance costs of 2x MSAA. It is based on a Temporal Synthesis Filter with coverage samples per frame and per pixel. If the framerate is low it will start flickering, the filter starts to decide then whether or not to apply. The performance hit is low for the filter, less than 2%. But it is a promising new AA alright. We have a full article on it right here.

VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination)

VXGI is the next step in lighting for gaming and, in simple wording, a new real-time global illumination engine technology. Global illumination is often used in the movie industry to produce CG scenes. VXGI is based on using a 3D structure (Voxels) to capture coverage and lighting information at every point in a scene. This data structure can then be traced during the final stage of rendering to precisely determine the effect of light bouncing around in the scene. VXGI provides improved performance for global illumination. This software algorithm will only work with Maxwell GPUs.


No this is not a photo - it is a scene from an Nvidia tech demo with VXGI in full effect

The performance hit is dynamic as it is scalable due to the number of steps and cones you use to render. It is a real-time practical solution for gaming at 40 to 60 FPS with incredible lighting detail. It will be available to developers through Nvidia Gameworks.

HDMI 2.0

Nice to see is that HDMI is now supported at revision 2.0. HDMI 2.0 is the successor to the HDMI 1.4a/b standard that we pretty much all use in this day and era. The primary reason to bring 2.0 support to Maxwell is that 4K Ultra HD televisions require more bandwidth to operate at their full potential. 4K Ultra HD is four times the resolution of 1080P and therefore UHD needs more throughput to manage that extra data going back and forth. So didn't my UHD TV work at HDMI 1.4 you might wonder? Yes, but only at 24 or 30 frames per second. That works OK for movies, but is of no use for gaming and TV broadcasts, which require 50 or 60 FPS. HDMI 1.4 also limits 4K Ultra HD content to 8-bit color, but it is capable of 10 or 12-bit color. HDMI 2.0 can handle up to 18 gigabits per second. That’s plenty enough to allow for 12-bit color and video up to 60 frames per second. There are advantages audio wise as well; HDMI 2.0 can carry 32 channels of uncompressed audio. FYI - the latest Dolby Atmos surround format is capable of 64 channels of surround in the theaters. Scaling it back to 32 channels (or less) for a home-brewed version of Dolby Atmos is now within grasp. HDMI 2.0 changes nothing about the size, shape or wiring of HDMI cables. In fact, your existing cables will work fine. Also HDMI 2.0 is backward compatible with older HDMI versions, you’ll be able to connect your old Blu-ray player and/or A/V receiver to a newer HDMI 2.0-equipped 4K Ultra HD. With HDMI 2.0, the GPU can now drive full-resolution “444” RGB pixels at 4K resolution at 60Hz.

NVENC Encoder Updates

GM2xx Maxwell also ships with an enhanced NVENC encoder that adds support for H.265 (also known has HEVC) encoding. H.265 compression offers significant bandwidth savings versus H.264 at the same quality level, which will help enable the next generation of streamed gaming experiences within the home or powered by the cloud. In addition, Maxwell’s video encoder improves H.264 video encode throughput by 2.5x over Kepler, enabling it to encode 4K video at 60 FPS.

DirectX 12

Microsoft’s DirectX 12 API has been designed to have CPU efficiency significantly greater than earlier DirectX versions. The DX12 release of DirectX will introduce a number of new features for graphics rendering. Microsoft has disclosed some of these features, at GDC and during NVIDIA’s Editor’s conference. Conservative Raster, discussed earlier in the GI section of this paper, is one such DX graphics feature. Another is Raster Ordered Views (ROVs,) which gives developers control over the ordering of pixel shader operations. GM2xx supports both Conservative Raster and ROVs. The new graphics features included in DX12 will be accessible from either DX11 or DX12 so developers will be free to use the new features with either the DX11 or DX12 APIs.

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