New Features – PCI Express 2.0, Pure Video HD and TRMS AA
PCI Express 2.0 GPU Debut:
The way to PCI Express 2.0 has been paved by Intel's new X38 chipset and NVIDIA decided to follow it with the launch of this new GPU. The PCI Express 2.0 standards specification calls for a 5 Gigabit/sec SerDes (serializer/deserializer) physical interface. These new higher speed links will offer twice the available dedicated bi-directional bandwidth keeping the GPU fed with pre-processed rendering workload from the host "root complex" system CPU. Though this new high speed serial interface will become more important down the road, as game engines and new platform designs begin to take advantage of it, think of this new GPU feature as an insurance policy of sorts, offering a level of future-proof
2nd Generation PureVideo HD:
If you were paying attention to our GeForce 8600 series launch back in April, you would have seen a preview of the second coming of NVIDIA's PureVideo HD video processing engine in that new GPU architecture.
NVIDIA VP2 video processing engine offers AES128 decryption for HDCP content as well as full hardware acceleration from bitstream processing to motion compensation and decode for H.264 high def content. A diagram from that past launch illustrates NVIDIA's GPU video processing migration over the past few releases.
GeForce 8800 series GPUs currently are only VP1 enabled but in later releases of the GeForce 8500 and 8600 series GPUs, NVIDIA brought out VP2 and has also migrated the new processing engine into the GeForce 8800 GT and will likely do so for roadmap products as well.
TRMS AA - A New Transparency AA Sampling Algorithm:
Anti-aliasing is probably has become the darling feature enhancement of Graphics Processors over the years. It seems like with every new GPU referesh, a new sampling algorithm is unveiled touting new found levels of image quality crispness. With the new R167 release of NVIDIA's ForceWare drivers, capability for a new transparency AA sampling algorithm has been enabled that offers super-sample-like transparency AA quality at multi-sample AA performance levels. That is to say that this new TRMS AA (transparency multi-sample AA) setting will have a minimal impact on performance but look as good as super sample modes. Below we have taken screen shots from Half Life 2: EP1 in an effort to illustrate the image quality of the available modes for the various tranparency AA settings.
Note that Half Life 2: EP2 has its own transparency AA technology built into the engine, so setting transparency AA in the driver control panel for that game engine, isn't worth doing. However, as you can see in EP1, our chain link fence looks decidedly more defined and crisp, especially in far-reaching areas and along the bottom of these shots, with TRMS AA enabled versus the shot without it. Finally, as you can see here, the super sample AA mode doesn't offer much if any additional image quality enhancement over TRMS. Examples of current game engines that can benefit from TRMS are Half Life 2 and HL2 EP1, Oblivion, FarCry and Serious Sam 2. Examples of games that have built-in transparency AA are Half Life 2: EP2, Company of Heros, Team Fortress 2, Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142.