Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory SLI Testing
We recently picked up a copy of Ubisoft's great new Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory game, strictly for professional test purposes around the lab of course. ;-) What a great looking game this is and the engine has a shader model 3.0 code path that allows the GeForce 6800 series boards we used for testing to really stretch their legs. For these tests we turned off High Dynamic Range rendering and a few of the other PS 3.0 effects that are available in the game engine, so what you're left with is essentially the rendering quality of the game's default Pixel Shader 1.1 code path, but with the performance benefits the PS 3.0 path bring to the table.
Based on a new version of the Unreal Engine enhanced with a bunch of DX9 shading, lighting and mapping effects Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory is a dangerously gorgeous game with a very immersive but dark environment, just the thing to compliment your Super-Spy Mercenary ways.
Here we didn't have the time or luxury of testing our AMD nForce 4 SLI test-bed for reference but instead we decided to take time to see what a few more logical processing threads thrown in the mix, could do for performance in SLI mode. Although SC Chaos Theory is not based a multi-threaded game engine, our "theory" was that perhaps dual CPU cores with HyperThreading for a total of four logical CPU cores and active threads, could somehow assist in handling OS overhead and CPU calls for the load balancing required between the GPU cores in SLI mode. In fact what we saw was a hint of that theory proven out. In SLI mode a 3.5GHz overclocked Pentium 840, with system memory clocked to the same DDR667 speeds on the same motherboard, is actually just slightly faster than a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU at 3.73GHz, in this specific test. In single GPU mode, at these relative high image quality settings (this game beats on even the most powerful GPUs), we were much more graphics subsystem limited, so the scores at that setting came in right on top of each other.
This was an interesting test for us as it showed the benefits of a multi-core CPU in a current gaming environment versus a similar single core CPU. Although we were only witness to a 4% performance advantage, if you consider the fact that the two Pentium 840 cores were running over 200MHz slower than the 3.73GHz Pentium 4, the gain begins to look more sizable. Again, while this isn't representative of what a fully multi-threaded game engine could do on these new Pentium dual core architectures, it does shed some light on the topic a bit and is good food for thought if nothing else.