NVIDIA GeForce 256 Part 1: To buy or not to buyby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 11, 1999 5:07 PM EST
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Hardware T&L - Support
The first basic requirement for a game to take advantage of Hardware T&L is that it must use either the DirectX 7 or OpenGL API. This means that unless a game uses DirectX 7's Hardware T&L engine or the implementation in OpenGL it will not receive any benefit from the GeForce 256's hardware T&L.
The movement of T&L off the CPU and on to the Graphics Card
Provided that one of those two above stipulations are met, the next requirement is that the game must not use its own transforming or lighting engine. This immediately takes Unreal Tournament out the running because it uses its own T&L engine. Most other games use their own lighting engines and therefore can't take advantage of the 'hardware lighting' part but can take advantage of the 'hardware transforming' part of the T&L equation. Right off the bat, this will give games like Quake 2 and Quake 3 a small boost in performance.
For now the purpose of the GeForce 256's hardware T&L will be to provide for a small increase in performance in applications that support it natively. Since there are currently no Direct3D applications that make use of DirectX 7's Hardware T&L engine this leaves the current crop of OpenGL games without their own T&L engines.
Later we will see game developers use more polygons in developing their games and will consequently tailor to the higher polygon throughput of the GeForce 256 and future cards like it. Since most games that are coming out at the end of this year have already been in development for quite some time, it is ridiculous to think that they would re-write considerable amounts of code just to support the GeForce's Hardware T&L. In the future, more games will be designed with Hardware T&L in mind, but for now, don't expect to see too much from the hardware T&L support of the GeForce other than a few nice looking demos.
The exception is in games that currently offer higher detail settings, the perfect example being Quake 3. Using the below settings you can enable a higher detail setting in Q3Test on any graphics card. On the GeForce 256, because of its hardware T&L, this is "given" to you without any performance hit whereas it takes a performance hit with other cards such as the TNT2 Ultra.
But, with the current implementation of this "higher detail" setting, the performance drop on the TNT2 is next to nothing (2 - 3%) but the final shipping game may feature a few other higher detail options that are "free" (in terms of performance) with the GeForce 256. Then again, they might not make that big of a difference.