NVIDIA GF100 (Fermi) Technology preview

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Video Footage | examples | Final words


Ending with a bang ...  some video's.

Over at the technology briefing we took some video footage (done with merely a digital photo camera) in order to see some real-time footage of GF100 at work. Granted not the best quality as we didn't feel like bringing along our HD Camera through USA customs all the way from Europe, but you'll get the idea.

For the first video footage we'll be peeking at GF100 / Fermi in action doing ray tracing in real-time. NVIDIA is making huge steps forward, but the raw compute performance needed for real-time ray tracing is enormous. This demo is rendered with three GF100 cards. So we are roughly three generations away from this kind of real-time performance, and even then it's just too little. A combo of rasterizing and ray tracing therefore seems to have the best future. But granted, these are big steps that are made alright.

For our second demo we'll look at a side by side comparison of a GT100 (left screen) and GeForce GTX 285 (right screen) based graphics card rendering Far Cry 2. Settings are 1920x1200, 4xAA 16AA with ULTRA settings (Guru3D tests at very high). The time-demo is ranch small.

System specifications:

  • Core i7 960 processor @ default 3.2 GHz
  • 6 GB Memory
  • Windows 7 64-bit

The average FPS end result for the GTX 285 is 50 frames per second and just over 84 Frames per second for the GF100.

So here we can see a new game title, Dark Void. Not really my personal favorite title whatsoever but there are some nice PhysX effect going on in the game. Have a peek and listen closely to the narrated voice.

SuperSonic Rocket Sled Demo
For the last chapter of our article I wanted to have a chat with you on the technology demo that you've probably all seen videos of. I watched the comments from some of you guys, some are positive some negative as if NVIDIA did not live up to a certain reputation.

Personally I feel that SuperSonic Rocket Sled is the best demo NVIDIA has ever made. We've seen and done all the facial animations, dusks, dawns and what not. What you are seeing with the SuperSonic Sled demo is pretty amazing as the demo is very rich in objects, triangle count, quality textures, complex shaders, depth of field, but more so massive volumetric particles and liquid PhysX implementations and very rich geometric detail thanks to the hardware tessellation functionality embedded into the GF100 GPU. So from a technology point of view, this is the most advanced demo NVIDIA has ever designed.

We have a little movie available in which you can observe the demo (only 40 seconds -- that's all NVIDIA was willing to share), seriously a lot is going on here. Fluid simulation, Smoke and Dust GPU PhysX, GPU particle systems creating rocket smoke, dust, explosions (fire balls) and smoke trails. The main character has PhysX joints so when he crashes into something his ligaments will stretch, break and bend. The house and bridge that you see will break down in tens of thousands of objects creating GPU debris falling down according to the laws of gravity.

Then several miles of terrain design had to be created and to ensure a really good scenery, the mountains and overall terrain you'll spot are massively tesselated. Then the little effects like depth of field, blurs and environmental effects. All in all once you guys get to see the demo for yourself, it really is a great astonishing little demo -- but unfortunately we only have a tiny part of the demo footage available.

Final Words
Okay you guys. We kept things as simple as possible for this GF100 preview. The big question remains when we'll see GF100 based products on the market, all we can say is that it won't be long now. We expect March for the product to hit the stores, and prior to that moment of course you can expect a full fetched review on the latest offering from NVIDIA.

There's really so much more to discuss on the topic GF100 and the cards that will derive from it, but also memory controllers, memory configurations (NVIDIA did not talk about this whatsoever), board design, power design, SKUs, cooling methods, TDPs and accompanying heat levels and so on. Unfortunately we can't disclose any of that information just yet as NVIDIA simply didn't talk about it. Perhaps they are saving the best for last. Anyhow, from ground up the chip looks pretty good, but NVIDIA really needs to get these puppies out of the door. We'd like to thank NVIDIA for their cooperation and opportunity to write this article.

More to come next month.

- Hilbert

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