ATI Technologies’ Director of PR, Chris Evenden, responded to accusations in cheating with the CATALYST drivers in order to achieve higher results in 3DMark03. The scandal broke on Friday, the 23rd of May, when Futuremark, the developer of the 3DMark03 issued a document stating that NVIDIA and ATI Technologies implemented cheats in drivers in an attempt to score better in 3DMark03 benchmark.
According to ATI’s representative quoted by Beyond3D in their editorial over here, the 1.9% performance gain came from optimization of the two DirectX 9.0 shaders (water and sky) in Game Test 4. ATI rendered the scene exactly as intended by Futuremark, in full-precision floating point. Their shaders were math1ematically and functionally identical to Futuremark's and there were no visual artifacts; according to ATI Technologies, the company simply shuffled instructions to take advantage of their architecture. ATI states that these were exactly the sort of optimizations that work in games to improve frame rates without reducing image quality and as such, were a realistic approach to a benchmark intended to measure in-game performance. However, ATI recognized that these can be used by some people to call into question the legitimacy of the benchmark results, and so they would remove them from their driver as soon as is physically possible. They expect them to be gone by the next release of CATALYST.
ATI Technologies was less aggressive in its statements than NVIDIA Corporation, who accused Futuremark of developing unfair benchmarks. Nevertheless, I would point out that ATI will not have to remove anything from the drivers keeping in mind that Futuremark already made the patch to ignore the cheats. Another thing for you to note is that 3DMark03 is not a game and every single technique to “optimize” it can be considered as a cheat. I wonder if ATI actually optimizes anything for real games with pixel shaders.
Anyway, the company claims it will not cheat again with the 3DMark03 and that is definitely a positive piece of information. But what about NVIDIA?
You can download the patch that defeats cheating mechanisms in drivers by NVIDIA and ATI Technologies for Futuremark’s 3DMark03 here.