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3DMark05: The Concept

Futuremark, who calls its 3DMark benchmark “The Gamer’s Benchmark” has been consistently improving functionality and added support for technology innovations of its 3DMark series. The software that saw the light of the day in late 1998 has become a de-facto graphics performance measurement tool for categories varying from amateur gamers to large OEM decision makers.

  • 3DMark99 concentrated on measuring fixed function vertex transformation and lighting, and multitexturing.
  • 3DMark2000 added support for graphics hardware supporting transformation and lighting, and the complexity of the game tests was increased.
  • 3DMark2001 increased the complexity of the fixed function game scenes to tens of thousands polygons per frame on average and also introduced shader technology. The scenes mainly used fixed function vertex and pixel processing, while shaders were used for special effects. There was skinning, morphing and massive amount of animated grass and leaves, all using 1.1 vertex shaders. Game test 4 presented the first higher level material using a 1.1 pixel shader.
  • 3DMark03 concentrated on testing the 1.x and 2.0 shader model. Only one game test, meant for legacy systems, offered fixed function multitexturing, while the other three used pixel shaders for all materials. All vertex processing used vertex shaders, mainly of the 1.x model. The last game test presented the first vertex and pixel shaders of shader model 2, while the majority of the shaders in that test still were of the 1.x model. The scene complexity was raised to several hundred thousand polygons per frame on average.
  • 3DMark05 raises the technology bar and uses exclusively Shader Model 2 and 3 for all vertex and pixel processing. DirectX 9 also presents shader model 2a, 2b and 3.0. All compatible shaders can be run using any of the shader model 2.x profiles or 3.0. This is enabled throughout 3DMark05 based on Futuremark’s understanding that this is what future games will offer. The scene complexity has been raised to over one million rendered polygons per frame on average.

The main points 3DMark05 brings over the previous version is restricted use of only Shader Model 2.0 and 3.0 across all benchmarking scenes along with dynamic selection of rendering paths for particular hardware.

“3DMark05 chooses render paths based on what DirectX (DX) features are reported as supported by the DX Caps. 3DMark05 builds mostly SM2 compatible shaders which are then delivered to the DX shader compiler, with compilation flags about which shader profile to use as output (2_0/2_a/2_b/3_0). The DX compiler then produces ASM level shaders, and it's up to the compiler which instructions end up in the low level shaders that are actually used for rendering. We have a couple specially tuned shaders, like an SM3 “early out” branching shader in Game Test 1, which exits the shader early, if that pixel is on a surface away from the light. Another special case is the DST shadow shader,” says Patric Ojala from Futuremark.

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