NVIDIA GF100 Architecture and Feature Preview - HotHardware

NVIDIA GF100 Architecture and Feature Preview

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Many of the new feature of GF100 are designed to increase geometric realism, while offering increased image quality, and of course high performance. One of the new capabilities that will be a part of the GF100, like other DirectX 11 class GPUs, is hardware accelerated tessellation.


Tessellation Example

The GF100 has built-in hardware support for tessellation. As we've mentioned in the past, tessellation works by taking a basic polygon mesh and recursively applying a subdivision rule to create a more complex mesh on the fly. It's best used for amplification of animation data, morph targets, or deformation models. And it gives developers the ability to provide data to the GPU at coarser resolution. This saves artists the time it would normally take to create more complex polygonal meshes and reduced the data's memory footprint. Unlike previous tessellator implementations, the one in the GF100 adheres to the DX11 spec, and will not require proprietary code.

  
Hair Demo

To show off the capabilities of GF100, NVIDIA used a number of interesting demos. As many of you know, properly rendering and animating realistic hair is a difficult task. As such, many games slap helmets or caps on characters, if they even have hair at all. NVIDIA's Hair Demo, however, combines tessellation, with geometry shading and and leverages the compute performance of the GF100 to generate flowing hair. The images were realistically lit and smoothly animated, which is a far cry from most of today's current games.

 
Water Demo

Another demo NVIDIA used to illustrate tessellation with the GF100 was aptly dubbed the Water Demo. As you can see in the screenshots above, the water demo takes a scene with relatively basic geometry, and through increased tessellation and displacement mapping the detail in the rocks and water is dramatically increased. The demo does not use realistic fluid dynamics, but the effect was nonetheless still very good. The difference in performance between the two modes was roughly 2x--with course geometry the demo ran at about 300FPS and with high-detail it ran at about 150FPS.

  

  
New GF100 Anti-Aliasing Modes

In addition to offering much more compute performance and geometry processing than previous generations, the GF100 also features new anti-aliasing modes. The GF100 will offer higher AA performance than GT200 not only due to having more ROPsm but because enhancements have been make to each ROP as well. With GF100 the data compression factor is higher in the ROPs, it can use more samples, and it offers better transparency AA quality thanks to accelerated jittered sampling.

Jittered sampling changes the sampling pattern randomly on a per-pixel basis, which help removes banding with noise, and produced an edge that is more pleasant to the eye. The GF100 also offers a new 32x CSAA mode (8x + 24 color samples) in addition to support for 33 levels of alpha blended transparency. The effect of the new AA mode is much smoother edges, as seen in the screenshots above. The new AA mode also preserves more detail on textures with transparency, that are sometimes rendered incorrectly when viewed at angles, like chain-link fence or railing, for example.

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From listening to people theoretically more knowledgeable about hardware than I (which really would not be that difficult, to be honest. I'm more into the practical information than the technical information, e.g. This card goes in that slot), I've heard that the boost in double floating point precision is something that is pretty much not utilized (if it's even possible to be) in games, and so it's nothing that will help frame rates/gaming performance, yet is something that is built into the architecture, so it's something that can't just be cut for, say, the Geforce series of Fermi (if they continue that line), to make them cheaper.

Basically, it sounded like the cards will have a large piece of them on there, that will be paid for by the consumer, that won't actually be used by games at all. Something that just raises costs with no benefit for an average gamer that buys one. Could anyone shed light on this?

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A lot of technical information, but it's also showcasing some of the things the Nvidia DirectX 11 enabled cards will be able to do. The free-flowing hair and water look incredible.

The higher anti-aliasing modes, ray tracing, tessellation, Nvidia is showing how much more powerful Fermi is than the GT200 series. And I think we're talking multiples, at least 2-3 times the performance in certain areas.

Hard numbers will bear that out, but it's safe to say Nvidia has something very powerful up their sleeve.

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When you look through the full article and the slides the show check out the one of the hair. I studied that one pretty deep, and it looks considerably similar to the real thing. With something like hair they are minuscule to the point of blending together. In the Nvidia demo of hair you could see thousands of separate hairs in the image. So the detail and construction level of this card looks to be awesome. However; we will have to see how that affects speed of rendering etc for a final verdict.

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The hair and the water pics, both look amazing.

Though I thought it was showing off DirectX 11 tessellation, rather than a feature of the Nvidia cards.

The Supersonic Sled demo would be unique to Nvidia because it employs PhysX.

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That's true but when I looked at that picture first I was like why are the showing a blond wig on here. Then I looked at it closer and scrolled down and read to details and was like wow that almost looks like rl hair. So producing a pic of that much detail that I can see through my current GPU on a webpage image which is not the same GPU is like minus 2-400 percent detail wise at the least.

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I see what you mean. Man, but I would loved to see a video demonstration of the free flowing hair and the water. With the speed of news coming out about Fermi, I think we'll have a demo pretty soon!

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Well what I am saying is that the picture you can see is awesome and the real picture on your PC would be 2-400 times better. So this thing will blow away everything on the market I would imagine, but it also changes the general functionality of a GPU as well. The focus and delivery mechanisms as well as software platform is in many ways totally different, or at least the focus is. I am pretty confident the reason the 5970 is two tweaked 5850 gpu's, is because ATI is working on something new as well. I also think that inn realistic pictures we are on a cusp. Look at Avatar it is animation done by computers almost completely with real actors at the same time. It is a meshing of technologies which I see on your PC in a relatively short amount of time. The 5870 started it this Nvidia hardware expands it, and ATi expands it just like normal. The impact on digital imagery and its availability to the normal person will change though.

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I was able to find some video demos on youtube and I posted them a couple of posts above. They're worth checking out! My current graphics card would melt if I tried running any of the demos on it, lol.

The Streaming Multiprocessors on the GF100 have taken a giant leap forward:

  • 32 CUDA Cores (4x compared to GT200)
  • 16 or 48KB of Shared Memory (3x compared to GT200)
  • 16 or 48KB of L1 Cache (There was no L1 on GT200)

We're seeing some major increases in hardware power and we're also seeing real improvements in geometric processing (tessellation and displacement mapping). Rob over at Techgage mentions it in his review:

"While pixel shaders have had an increasing focus from GPU generation to the next, there's been almost no love to the triangle generator. Compared to the GeForce FX (2003), the shading horsepower has increased by 150x, while the geometric processing has increased by only 3x."

 

You're right that the new Nvidia cards will surpass the offerings by ATI, and Nvidia has not tried to hide that fact. Look at this graph they released of tessellation performance(red is ATI):

The 5870's max FPS barely touches the min of the GF100.

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yeah those video demos are awesome especially the hair one and the water. I still think the detail in the hair is awesome. when the wind blows it looks real

 

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gibbersome:
Though I thought it was showing off DirectX 11 tessellation, rather than a feature of the Nvidia cards.

Tessellation is a feature of the card, not DirectX.  The DirectX 11 standard specifies which adds APIs to control it, and specifies that only hardware that supports it can be called "DirectX 11 compatible".  OpenGL3.2 supports the same tessellation with the same cards, even on Windows XP (and Linux).

 

Tessellation controlled by OpenGL:

[View:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8TKUlMzcbw&feature=channel]

 

I agree about the hair and water vids - really nice looking stuff, though the frame rates on the hair seem a bit troubling considering there's nothing else being rendered in the demo.

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