Marking Time: 3DMark 11 Performance Explored - HotHardware

Marking Time: 3DMark 11 Performance Explored

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We compiled a list of the more important changes based on information included in the Reviewer's Guide and technical whitepaper for both benchmarks. These are presented below in no specific order.

New Physics Engine
: Back when FM developed Vantage, it opted to include support for Ageia's PhysX PPU. If Ageia had stayed independent, the second CPU test would've been a nod to what consumers with a PPU (Physics Processing Unit) could potentially look forward to-but given how few people had bought Ageia cards, it would never have had much impact on the benchmark's comparative database.

After NVIDIA bought Ageia and ported PhysX to its G80-derived GPUs it became impossible to compare both the overall Vantage score and the CPU score in particular between AMD and NVIDIA systems. Although the CPU score counted for much less than the graphics score, CPU results for an NV card could be as much as 4x higher than when using its ATI counterpart. This problem could be fixed by tagging the "Disable PPU" option, but the flag was unset by default.

3DMark 11 avoids this snarl by using Bullet physics. Bullet is a FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) package that's been used in a number of commercial products and films. The project's open nature ensures the underlying software code is available to anyone and prevents last minute surprises.


3DMark 11 offers much improved fine-grain control over test workloads compared to Vantage

Different Benchmark Focus: Vantage's two gaming benchmarks, Jane Nash and New Calico, each tested on a different set of GPU capabilities. Part of New Calico's focus was GPU ray tracing, which made sense at the time. Intel had unveiled its Larrabee GPU not too many months before, promising that it would transform game visuals through the use of real-time ray-tracing. AMD and NVIDIA's collective response boiled down to "No, you won't," and the two established GPU manufacturers ended up winning that argument.

The four gaming tests in 3DMK11 focus on different areas of performance. Graphics Test 1 uses a large number of spot lights in both shadow casting and non shadow casting flavors. It also includes non-shadow casting point lights and volumetric illumination. This test contains no tessellation. Test two tones down the number of spot lights but includes a fair amount of tessellated geometry. (shown above) Test three takes place outside with the sun providing a shadow casting directional light—Futuremark states that tessellation is applied to various statues and some of the vegetation.


Is that jeep 80Plus?

Test 4 is by far the nastiest--it combines single shadow-casting directional light (moonlight), and a few shadow casting spot lights. This scene appears to use more tessellation than any of the others; Futuremark states that "the majority of the rendering workload comes from drawing tessellated geometry to shadow maps and [the] G-buffer.

Scaling and Scoring: 3DMark 11 weights the relative value of CPU and GPU performance differently than Vantage. 3DMK:V split GPU/CPU weighting 75/25 in Performance mode and 95/5 in Extreme mode. 3DMK11's Performance preset  uses a 75/15/10 split between Graphics, Physics, and Combined; its Extreme preset breaks down to 80/10/10. CPU performance counts for more at the upper end, possibly because DX11's multi-threading support is much improved over DX10s.

Enough talk. Let's do some numbers.

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I was wondering how this benchmark was going to evolve and it looks to be worth buying it again for the newer version.

Thanks for the good review and I think that the Jeep is '80+Yellow'.

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This makes me sad that I cannot run it on my older GPU ~ Radeon 4870.

Awesome review though Dave! I love it and your graphs are organized in descending order (easier to read). MMMM, tasty graphs; it's like a nerd's new toy. Loved how it showed differences between AMD 6 cores and Intel's 4 cores. I'm wondering if this is due to instruction set as well other than like it said "clock for clock" perf.

*needs new pants* (sorry is this a PG forum?) Go ahead and modify/delete if mod sees this.

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*coughs lightly* ;) 

Dave, of course, approved the content but it was my nimble fingers slaving to the bone. ;). 

Regarding AMD vs Intel performance:  I wanted to evaluate how much CPU performance impacted 3DMark 11 but remember that in a real game, CPU choice doesn't usually have that much impact. For whatever reason, the performance gap is wider than I would've expected and not necessarily of what you'd see in a shipping title. 

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This is often true, but as new games come out with similar tech/algorithms using DirectCompute/Tessellation/etc. (DX11), then 3DMark11 will earn credibility?  I don't even know if that made sense.

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One of the things I like about 3DMK11 is that it corrects several issues that prevented Vantage from being as cross-comparative a test as Futuremark might have liked.  It's also one of the only DirectX 11 programs to test a wide range of DX11 capabilities. Most of the games that support DX11 only use it for certain specific tasks and can fall back to DX10/10.1 to handle those same effects if necessary. 

One of the things I dislike about the current Unigine benchmark is that the higher detail levels aren't really DirectX 11 performance tests--they're DX11 tessellation tests. Tessellation is one of the main selling points, it's very important—but benchmarks that start off as balanced and turn into tests of essentially one DX11 feature need to be labeled as such.

The TLDR version: I like DX11 because I think it improves the current state of DX11 benchmarking. I'd still prefer to see premium titles take full advantage of what the API can do.

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Try testing the AMD CPU on a modern AM3 motherboard.  You could be running into issues from the DDR2 memory being used compared to the ddr3 of the i7 920

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LOL Count... have you read this forum? its no where near PG xD

Nice review Dave. LOL that antec jeep :P

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countcristo:

Awesome review though Dave! I love it and your graphs are organized in descending order (easier to read). MMMM, tasty graphs; it's like a nerd's new toy.

Inspector:

Nice review Dave. LOL that antec jeep :P

Stick out tongue

Joel H:

*coughs lightly* ;) 

Dave, of course, approved the content but it was my nimble fingers slaving to the bone. ;). 

 

LMFAO!!!

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I. AM. NOT. RODNEY. DANGERFIELD.

/Wrath

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I ran it on my i7 with my 5870 and got a p4500 score... if i remember correctly 

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