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NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800-series announced yesterday and derivative graphics processors have support for Pixel Shaders and Vertex Shaders 3.0 functionality that enhance the feature-set of the current DirectX X 9.0 version, however, to properly expose the capability, a new version of Microsoft’s graphics API is required.

General Shader Model 3.0 specifications were set back in 2002 and were included in the initial release of Microsoft DirectX 9.0 API. The main idea of Shader Model 3.0 is a great expansion of Shader Model 2.0 specs and allowing software makers to create longer and more complex programs for modern graphics processors. So far only NVIDIA decided to support the new standard in the GeForce 6-series of GPUs.

X-bit labs’ reviewers tried to estimate the performance of the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics processor when it executes pixel shaders version 3.0 effects using its Xbitmark benchmark, however, the experience was not a success for some reason. Initially, it was believed that the Shader 3.0 functionality was at least partially disabled in the current ForceWare driver from NVIDIA, but, that assumption did not turned to be correct.

“The drivers are enabled with Shader Model 3.0, but if you do not have DirectX 9.0c installed the caps will not be activated,” an NVIDIA spokesman told X-bit labs.

Apparently, NVIDIA’s new GPUs will require a major update of Microsoft DirectX 9.0 to expose all their capabilities. Generally, there are no games to support Pixel Shaders 3.0 right now, therefore the limitation caused by API will not affect end-users. Game developers usually belong to Microsoft’s beta program and have preliminary version of DirectX 9.0c at their disposal.

“If you are a beta tester for Microsoft then you can get it easily,” NVIDIA’s official said.

NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 6800 Ultra is a next-generation high-end graphics processor that delivers monstrous performance in today’s and future applications. Graphics cards based on the chip will be available in late May or early June for the price of approximately $499.

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