DirectX 10 – today and tomorrow:
Given the current DX10 PR war going on between AMD and Nvidia, I felt it would be a good time to ask some very specific questions about the three DirectX 10 benchmarks that are already out there.
However, Roy pointed out that his job wasn’t really to talk about benchmark results; instead, he’s incredibly focused on helping developers create great content for PC gamers. “Most developers don’t really care about benchmarks; in fact, they generally don’t like them and neither do publishers – they both just care about creating great content.”
Based on Roy’s answer, I decided to ask some more general questions about DirectX 10 performance, as Nvidia’s Tony Tamasi, Vice President of Technical Marketing, and David Blythe, one of Microsoft's Graphics Architects, both talked about efficiency improvements and API overhead reductions in DX10. However, with the first crop of DirectX 10 games (namely Lost Planet, Call of Juarez
and Company of Heroes
), we’ve seen some pretty massive performance drops for some relatively small image quality benefits over what the DirectX 9.0 versions offer.
Roy was quick to point out that “it’s important to note that the massive performance titles you’ve mentioned are results from games that are early looks rather than reflective of the first wave of first generation titles.” Roy continued, telling us that some more betas would be coming out in the next two months, with full game launches starting as early as August. He then revealed that “the experiences with those will be very different for a number of reasons.”
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition & Call Of Juarez DX10 demos
Naturally, the next question was: why are those titles going to be different?
“Developers wishing to use DX10 have a number of choices to make. But the biggest is whether to layer over a DX9 title some additional DX10 effects or to decide to design for DX10 from the ground up. Both take work but one is faster to get to market than the other. It’s less a question of whether DX10 is working optimally on GeForce 8-series GPUs and more a case of how is DX10 being used. To use it well – and efficiently – requires development time.
“Tony and David are right, there are API reductions, massive AA is ‘almost free’ with DX10. This is why we are able to offer CSAA [up to 16xAA] with new DX10 titles – the same thing with DX9 just isn’t practical. AA makes things pretty but what we really want to see from DX10 – and what DX10 offers is the chance to do things we haven’t seen before. For example the full use of DX10 stated instancing to produce huge, I mean really
huge crowd scenes. That’s possible and could be used in many ways to affect game play. There are so many others.”
Methinks Roy has been playing World in Conflict... lucky begger!
I couldn't let him leave me on a cliffhanger there, so I asked if he could elaborate a bit more on that...
“Sure, imagine this; you are in charge of an anti-aircraft gun, you’re surrounded and waiting for help. Suddenly you can hear an aircraft approach, you look up but bright sunlight and clouds obscure your vision (god rays [volumetric light rays streaming through trees and clouds], volumetric clouds, HDR) you can see a plane approach but you don’t know whether to shoot. Then suddenly, the clouds pass behind the plane and hide the sun (because they can, they are volumetric!) and it’s one of yours! Hooray, it sweeps down and begins blowing up the hordes (there are many because we have instancing!) of enemy tanks. As the pilot flies by, he waves at you because you can clearly see his facial features behind the glass – that’s what DX10 can bring.
“So yes we will see big performance jumps in DX10 and Vista as we improve drivers but to keep looking at that area is to really miss the point about DX10. It’s not about – and it was never about – running older games at faster frame rates. PC Gamers weren’t getting antsy demanding Far Cry run at 200 fps instead of 100 fps – what PC gamers want are better, more immersive, compelling PC games. DX10 is going to give them that – it was never invented to make games they’ve already played and moved on from just run faster.”