To show their last graphic cards performances, ATI asked to Crytek to develop a demonstration based on Far Cry’s engine but with more complex shaders, higher definition of textures, high definition normal map using 3Dc and advanced post processing (depth of field, motion blur etc.). The result is success, one step further than Far Cry’s graphic quality.
ATI insists on the fact that they didn’t asked to Crytek to restrict the demonstration only to their graphic cards. Using the 3Dc is optional and as no other specific ATI’s technology is included in the demonstration, any other graphic card should be able to run it. We confirm this information. With the GeForce 6 series, however, two graphic bugs are visible. First, the depth of field effect isn’t correctly rendered. It is the same bug corrected by NVIDIA with Tomb Raider AOD probably by replacing the shader. The other bug is with the water rendering, using a more complex shader than in Far Cry.
Despite these two bugs, we wanted to see the behaviour of ATI and NVIDIA’s graphic card with this demonstration and also the interest of 3Dc. Normal maps are initially to the RGB format and then are converted during the process to the 3Dc format if it is activated. 3Dc is used to increase performances with a counterpart a reduced quality loss. This is theory. For the practice we will have to wait a little bit more as the 3Dc support seems to have a bug in this demonstration. The demonstration crashes when the 3Dc is activated. We though first that it was a bug in ATI’s drivers. But after testing several versions (Catalyst 4.11 / 8.07, 8.08 beta, 8.08 beta2 and 8.09 alpha) we came to the conclusion that the problem was the demonstration itself. Crytek seems to mix 3Dc and texture compression. With the patch 1.3, a less advanced normal map compression is used instead of the 3Dc as announced. With his demonstration, Crytek detects the 3Dc support even with a GeForce 6800 (not compatible with this technology). So when Crytek indicates 3Dc should we really read 3Dc or simply normal maps compression?
Here are the scores obtained in PS 2.x for the Radeon and in PS 3.0 for the GeForce. It is interesting to notice that with every scene change the GeForce 6800 Ultra slows down but not the Radeon X800 XT PE.
1024x768 AA 4X, Aniso 8X
Radeon X800 XT PE : 41.4 fps
GeForce 6800 Ultra : 37.3 fps
1600x1200 AA 4X, Aniso 8X
Radeon X800 XT PE : 21.2 fps
GeForce 6800 Ultra : 21.5 fps
Results obtained with this demonstration (at least without the 3Dc activated) shows the possibility of the last high end graphic cards rather than the possibility of the X800 compared to the 6800. A similar demonstration based on Half Life 2 Source engine should be released in the weeks to come.