Just about everyone that has benchmarked a gaming computer knows about FutureMark. This company specializes in benchmarks that are visually spectacular and can push even the latest hardware. Its current graphics benchmark, 3DMark 11 was released in December of 2010 and soon we will see the release of its successor.
The next 3DMark is being designed to work on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, which is why it will release after the OS launches, and will test DirectX 9, 10, and 11 hardware. Normally features found in a newer DX cannot be run be older hardware, but Futuremark is taking advantage of Feature Levels which are in the DirectX 11 API.
First introduced in DX 10, though in a limited way, Feature Levels are collections of features and capabilities hardware can be expected to run. Instead of having to request information from a GPU about if it can handle multiple specific features, software can ask the hardware what feature level it is at, and then run with only the features that level supports.
The tech demo for the next 3DMark features a trader walking through Scarport with its buildings clinging to canyon walls above canals of lava. Tessellation, advanced volumetric lighting with real-time light scattering, fluid dynamics simulation, post processing, ambient occlusion, lens effects and more complete the scene.