ATI Technologies explained today the optimisations they implemented in its CATALYST drivers in order to improve performance in 3DMark03 Game 4. An official from the company told us that ATI’s optimisations are really optimisations, but not cheats as we thought before.
In contrast to the rival, ATI Technologies’ drivers do not avoid any workload for the RADEON-based graphics cards. The final image quality is exactly as FutureMark intends, so, this more resembles optimisations, but not simple cheating, when the final image quality is lower than it should be and the graphics processor avoids certain workload. In fact, ATI rendered the 3DMark03 in such a way that allowed the R300 and R350 VPUs to perform 3 pixel shading instructions in parallel. According to ATI, this also works in real games as well when the Developer Relations department works with the developers of such games. In fact, it may be hard or impossible to perform such optimisations via compiler, ATI said, so, they need to work with the developers to achieve such efficiency.
Note that ATI decided to avoid such optimisations for 3DMark03 in future and will remove this one from the next version of CATALYST drivers.