GPU Cheatsheet - A History of Modern Consumer Graphics Processorsby Jarred Walton on September 6, 2004 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
DirectX 7 Performance
Below you can see our DirectX 7 based video processor chart:
|GF4 MX440 8X||275||500||2||2||0.5||128||1100||34||7629||68.8%||150.2%||137.5%||118.8%|
|GF4 MX440 SE||250||333||2||2||0.5||128||1000||31||5081||62.5%||100.0%||125.0%||95.8%|
|GeForce 256 DDR||120||300||4||1||0.5||128||480||15||4578||30.0%||90.1%||60.0%||60.0%|
|GeForce 256 SDR||120||166||4||1||0.5||128||480||15||2533||30.0%||49.8%||60.0%||46.6%|
|* RAM clock is the effective clock speed, so 250 MHz DDR is listed as 500 MHz.|
|** Textures/Pipeline is the maximum number of texture lookups per pipeline.|
|*** Nvidia says their GFFX cards have a "vertex array", but in practice it generally functions as indicated.|
|**** Single-texturing fill rate = core speed * pixel pipelines|
|+ Multi-texturing fill rate = core speed * maximum textures per pipe * pixel pipelines|
|++ Vertex rates can vary by implementation. The listed values reflect the manufacturers' advertised rates.|
|+++ Bandwidth is expressed in actual MB/s, where 1 MB = 1024 KB = 1048576 Bytes.|
|++++ Relative performance is normalized to the GF2 GTS, but these values are at best a rough estimate.|
|^ Radeon 7000 and VE had their T&L Engine removed, and cannot perform fixed function vertex processing.|
Now we're talkin' old school. There are those people in the world that simply can't stand the thought of having less than the latest and greatest hardware on the planet in their PC, and then there are people that have social lives. Okay, it's not that bad, but not everyone needs a super powerful graphics card. In fact, there are plenty of businesses running computers with integrated graphics that would be thoroughly outclassed be even the five year old GeForce 256. If you're only playing older 3D games or just want to get the cheapest non-integrated card you can find, DX7 cards fit the bill. A Home Theater PC that plays movies has no need for anything more, for instance. Or maybe you have a friend that's willing to just give you his old graphics card, and you want to know if it will be better than the piece of junk you already have? Whatever the case, here are the relative performance figures for the DX7 era cards.
No special weighting was used, although with this generation of hardware you might want to pay closer attention to memory bandwidth than the other areas. Fill rate is still important as well, but vertex fill rate is almost a non-issue. In fact, these cards don't even advertise vertex rates - they were measured in triangle rates. Since they had a fixed-function Transform and Lighting (T&L) pipeline, triangles/sec was the standard unit of measurement. The vertex pipelines are listed as "0.5" for the DX7 cards, emphasizing that they are not programmable geometry processors. As luck would have it, 0.5 times clock speed divided by 4 also matches the advertised triangle rates, at least on the NVIDIA cards. Vertex rates are anywhere from two to four times this value, depending on whether or not edges are shared, but again these rates are not achievable with any known benchmark. One item worth pointing out is that the Radeon 7000 and VE parts have had their vertex pipeline deactivated or removed, so they are not true DX7 parts, but they are included as they bear the Radeon name.
Early adopters of the DX7 cards were generally disappointed, as geometry levels in games tended to remain relatively low. First, there was a demo called "Dagoth Moor Zoological Gardens" created for the launch of the original GeForce 256. It was created by a company called "The Whole Experience" and used upwards of 100,000 polygons. Unfortunately, they never released any commercial games using the engine (at least, none that we're aware of). Later, a different company at the launch of the GeForce 2 created a demo that had millions of polygons to show off the "future of gaming" - that company would eventually release a game based off of their engine that you might have hear of, Far Cry. Actually, Crytek Studios demoed for both the original GeForce 2 launch and the GeForce 3 launch. They used the same engine and the demo name "X-isle" was the same as well, but the GF3 version added support for some pixel shader and vertex shader effects. Four years after demonstrating the future, it finally arrived! Really, though, it wasn't that bad. Many games are in development for several years now, so you can't blame them too much for delaying. Besides, launching a game that only runs with the newest hardware is tantamount to financial suicide.
As far as performance is concerned, the GeForce2 was the king of this class of hardware for a long time. After the GeForce 3, NVIDIA revisited DX7 cards with the GF4MX line, which added additional hardware support for antialiasing and hardware bump mapping. While it only had two pixel pipelines in comparison to the 4 of the GF2, the higher core and RAM speeds generally allowed the GF4MX cards to match the GF2 cards, and in certain cases they beat it. The Radeon 7500 was also a decent performer in this class, although it generally trailed the GF2 slightly due to the 2x3 pixel pipeline, which could really only perform three texture operations if two of them came from the same texture. Worthy of mention is the Nforce2 IGP chipset, which included the GF4MX 440 core in place of the normally anemic integrated graphics most motherboards offer. Performance was actually more like the GF4MX420, due to the sharing of memory bandwidth with the CPU and other devices, but it remains one of the fastest performing integrated solutions to this day. Many cards were also crippled by the use of SDR memory or 64-bit buses - we still see such things with modern cards as well, of course. Caveat emptor, as they say. If you have any interest in gaming, stay away from 64-bit buses, and these days even 128-bit buses are becoming insufficient.