Fermi: Codename GF 100 Closer Lookccokeman - January 18, 2010
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The bottom line for NVIDIA here is to improve gaming performance, visual quality and to move towards Geometric realism. Hardware accelerated tessellation is one of the capabilities that the GF100 and other DX 11 cards will use to improve on the realism of the finished frames. Tessellation is in basic terms taking the larger polygons and breaking them up into much smaller triangles hence you have a more detailed image. Looking at this first slide you can see how the gun holster and right hand shoulder are not quite round, nor is the corrugated roof wavy. One thing you notice is that the model is wearing a hat since creating realistic hair is resource intensive. The shading of the model is improved but the Geometric realism is quite modest while in the movies you get the best of both worlds. The key is to get there for gaming. Something GF 100 is designed for.
With the GF 100 Nvidia has redesigned the ROP subsystem to improve efficiency and throughput. With this subsystem improvement they can implement a 32X Coverage Sampling Anti Aliasing (CSAA) to help increase the level of (perceived)geometric realism. This system is actually 8 color samples and 24 coverage samples for a total of 32 samples. In this picture from Age of Conan you can see the difference between using TMAA with 16xQ anti aliasing (8multi samples+8 Coverage samples) on GT 200 vs the GF 100 TMAA 32x anti aliasing (8 Color +24 Coverage samples).
We were shown a few demos to show off the abilities of the GF 100. The Water demo took a basic map and applied tessellation and displacement mapping to make the scene come alive. While the pictures are far from doing the image justice the water looked real and the scene was rendered well over 100 fps. There did not appear to be any repeating waves during the minute or so I watched the demo. If you look at the photos the difference is stunning.
The second demo we had was the "Hair" demo. How many games have you played where there was not a hat or helmet on the models or that the hair moved as in blocks or as a whole? This demo showed what realistic hair can look like when rendered. Each strand of hair seemed to be rendered independently of each other. You could animate the head by twisting turning and applying force to the model(wind) to see how the hair behaved. The hair actually looked realistic and moved as hair should move.
We were treated to a Ray Tracing demo where the work was being done on the GF100 GPU with a comparison system having a GTX 285 in it. The difference in performance between the two at 2560x1600 was about a three fold difference. Even though the frame rates were below one with the maximum detail there was a significant differences in processing power. When the resolution was decreased the performance scaled quite well. If you look at these images the first and maybe second glance will tell you that they look absolutely real but are in fact rendered images using ray tracing. This feature can be used in driving games in a showcase mode where you can show off the object of your endeavors.
NVIDIA has put together a demo they call Supersonic Sled that illustrated all of the features of the GF 100. The premise was to build a demo to that would be fun yet functional. You get GPU Physx effects for the Fluids, Smoke, Dust and Pilots joints. You get particle simulation for the Rocket dust, Fireballs and smoke trails. Tessellation for the terrain and Image processing for the motion blur. The object is to go as fast as you can without blowing up the sled. This simulation requires an immense amount of computing power and was run on a 3-Way SLI setup for maximum effect. In some of the shots you will notice the sled and driver are perfectly clear but the surrounding area is blurred giving the illusion of speed.
One of the last demos we were shown was an upcoming 3rd person shooter from Capcom called Dark Void that makes use of much of the Physx toolbox. You have the Disintegrator and Turbulence effects from the Jet packs that look absolutely great in game. The Jet pack uses up to 100,000 particles to create a wispy looking smoke. Look for more on this game in the coming weeks as I have a copy to put to the test.