UPDATE: Added section with performance numbers for the "Eye-Candy" mode with full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering activated. More comments in "Conclusion" section.
Whether you are a gamer or a technology fan, you most probably know the game called FarCry. The title that has been in development for about three years and revolutionized the way we treat high-quality computer game with exceptional graphics, breath-taking realism and stunning special effects. The heavy use of new DirectX 9 technologies clearly brought FarCry in the list of the best titles of the decade so far. Moreover, the game developed by a team of developers, who was not presently known for any big titles, can successfully compete with the upcoming Doom III and Half-Life 2 titles.
Unfortunately for some end-users, frequent use of pixel and vertex shaders had dramatic impact on performance for graphics cards that cannot perform certain operations really fast. Our experience with FarCry so far shows that the game clearly benefits from ATI-based graphics cards that have exceptionally fast pixel shader ALUs as well as high clock-speed, while the GeForce FX graphics cards typically show pretty low performance in FarCry. The newly introduced GeForce 6800-series of products were massively faster compared to predecessors, but were still behind competing RADEON products. However, NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800-series graphics processors have a number of trumps, dubbed Pixel and Vertex Shaders 3.0, that eventually can drive the GPUs into the leading position compared to the RADEON X800-series visual processing units.
X-bit labs managed to get FarCry patch 1.2 along with Microsoft DirectX 9.0c and a special ForceWare driver version 61.45. The patch that is to be released one of these days sports optimizations for NVIDIA GeForce 6-series graphics cards and implements Pixel Shaders 3.0 in order to maximize performance in the game, while the DirectX 9.0c along with new ForceWare drivers fully support Shader Model 3.0 and are also likely to emerge shortly. Using all of this, we ran an extensive array of FarCry benchmarks in an attempt to figure out what benefit can the Shader Model 3.0 provide. The results proved to be extremely interesting and performance gains pleased us much.