DirectX 10.1 on an NVIDIA GPU?

Easily the most interesting thing about the GT 220 and G 210 is that they mark the introduction of DirectX 10.1 functionality on an NVIDIA GPU. It’s no secret that NVIDIA does not take a particular interest in DX10.1, and in fact even with this they still don’t. But for these new low-end parts, NVIDIA had some special problems: OEMs.

OEMs like spec sheets. They want parts that conform to certain features so that they can in turn use those features to sell the product to consumers. OEMs don’t want to sell a product with “only” DX10.0 support if their rivals are using DX10.1 parts. Which in turn means that at some point NVIDIA would need to add DX10.1 functionality, or risk losing out on lucrative OEM contracts.

This is compounded by the fact that while Fermi has bypassed DX10.1 entirely for the high-end, Fermi’s low-end offspring are still some time away. Meanwhile AMD will be shipping their low-end DX11 parts in the first half of next year.

So why do GT 220 and G 210 have DX10.1 functionality? To satisfy the OEMs, and that’s about it. NVIDIA’s focus is still on DX10 and DX11. DX10.1 functionality was easy to add to the GT200-derrived architecture (bear in mind that GT200 already had some DX10.1 functionality), and so it was done for the OEMs. We would also add that NVIDIA has also mentioned the desire to not be dinged by reviewers and forum-goers for lacking this feature, but we’re having a hard time buying the idea that NVIDIA cares about either of those nearly as much as they care about what the OEMs think when it comes to this class of parts.

DX10.1 in a nutshell, as seen in our Radeon 3870 Review

At any rate, while we don’t normally benchmark with DX10.1 functionality enabled, we did so today to make sure DX10.1 was working as it should be. Below are our Battleforge results, using DX10 and DX10.1 with Very High SSAO enabled.

The ultimate proof that DX10.1 is a checkbox feature here is performance. Certainly DX10.1 is a faster way to implement certain effects, but running them in the first place still comes at a significant performance penalty. Hardware of this class is simply too slow to make meaningful use of the DX10.1 content that’s out there at this point.

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  • chizow - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Of course, discerning consumers know better and demand new architectures! It wouldn't make any sense to accept old parts and rebadges that offer 2x the performance at a lower price!
  • yacoub - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    er, 8800GT. fingers...
  • poohbear - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    man i never thought i'd be saying this, but nvidia needs to get their shiat together!!! we need competition!!! they're getting trashed by AMD, what happened to em?
  • Souleet - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Everybody know NVIDIA is downplaying until they see how well Window 7 will be. Plus ATI releasing 5800 series with DX.11(software/games not going to be compatible with it until 2011).
  • formulav8 - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Huh? The new Radeons are compatible with every game the old radeons and geforce cards are and much better/faster.

    And there is a small list of games with DX11 features being released very soon that ONLY the new radeons can take advantage of.

    And nVdia isn't downplaying anything. They simply DO NOT have a answer to ATI's new cards at this time. And apprently it won't be till the first part of next year that they will have their answer.

    Why I keep seeing people trying to downplay nvidia's faults is beyond me?

  • Souleet - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Well I guess we have to wait and see. You cannot assume they do not have the answer. It is not the right time to release something at the caliber yet. I'm not bias but it seem that people are saying that ATI have won but there is no facts/comparison. Sure you can compare ATI 5800 series to the GT295/275(old graphic) but I think everybody want to see GT300 series face off with 5800 series. Remember what happen to ATI when NVIDIA came out with SLI? ATI release crossfire(not innovated) just to try and match NVIDIA instead of creating something more innovated. ATI never had a solution to defeat SLI and that is the fact.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't say ATI has "won", but they are currently leading. NVIDIA isn't releasing Fermi right now because they can't -- they don't have the hardware ready. The card shown was a mock-up part, and you don't use a fake card if you have real product ready. All signs are Jan/Feb 2010 for the GT300 release. That gives ATI a full four months of being the ONLY DX11 GPU supplier, right at a major buying time for consumers. NVIDIA isn't out by any stretch of the imagination -- just as ATI wasn't out with the 2000 and 3000 series, and NVIDIA weathered the FX 5000 times. Short-term, though, this has to be hurting.

    On the other hand, I can say that NVIDIA is the way to go on virtually any gaming laptop right now. ATI has some competitive parts, yes, but I wouldn't touch them until they get reference drivers for all major parts on their site. Depending on laptop manufacturers for driver updates is a really bad idea, and NVIDIA thankfully addressed that area a while back.
  • brybir - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Your statement is only partially true.

    There are several games that have some DirectX 11 features out right now. Perhaps the more accurate thing to say is that DirectX 11 will not see feature set adoption en mass until sometime in 2011.

    I think ATI somewhat admits this as they spent a good deal of time tweaking some of its driver and hardware features to boost the performance of directX 9 engine games. There was something about that on Anand a few weeks ago about that.
  • BenSkywalker - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    You show the 9600GSO winning the majority of the benches you decided to allow it to take part in, it is cheaper then the 4670, and the 4670 is the clear winner?

    Why do you bother quoting the price of the 9600GT when you refused to show benchmarks for it?

    Right now on the Egg you can get a 9600GSO for $40 AR, $60 before rebate. The article may be right in terms of the parts that are launching being a bad value, but more then anything that is because of how soundly they are bested by nV's existing parts- which are already faster and cheaper then the 4670.
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    It's one of those 96SP GSOs based on G92. We include for reference only; you can't buy them any more (and the 96SP model listed on Newegg is wrong, it's a 48SP model).

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