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Old 11-14-03, 06:12 AM   #48
Elite Bastard
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 984

ATi's take on the issue:

"It's been claimed that Futuremark's changes have disabled compilers. This is complete nonsense. ATI has had a compiler since CATALYST 3.6 and it didn't have any problems with Futuremark's changes. Shader replacement and compilers are completely different operations.

ATI has had a compiler since CATALYST 3.6. We didn't have any problems with Futuremark's changes. The new build of 3DMark03 gives an honest picture of the relative DX9 game performance of graphics cards. It accurately reflects what gamers will see with titles such as Half-Life 2, and what they already see with today's DX9 games, such as Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness.

Secondly, it is disingenuous to claim that Shader replacement better reflects the performance in games. Only a tiny fraction of games get the attention that 3DMark03 has had from our competitors. It requires too much programming time. Over 300 PC games are launched a year, and 100 of these will really tax the graphics hardware. Maybe a half-dozen - the ones most used as benchmarks - will receive the gentle caress of the driver engineer. An honest run of 3DMark03 will give a true indication of performance for the overwhelming majority of DirectX 9 games. Gamers need to be able to play any game they want; they don't want to be locked into the six that have had all their shaders replaced.

Even assuming that you somehow found the resources to replace all the shaders in every game, it's still not a practical solution. Shader replacement is a massive step back for reliability and game compatibility. Every year you'll be writing thousands of Shader programs that each have to be checked for image quality, taken through QA and supported. And changed whenever the developer issues a patch. Treating every game as a special case is a huge stability issue. Developers have come out against Shader replacement. John Carmack is on record as saying "Rewriting shaders behind an application's back in a way that changes the output under non-controlled circumstances is absolutely, positively wrong and indefensible." The opinions of Gabe Newell, Valve Software's CEO, on Shader replacement are well-known. Developers hate it. What if they release a new level, the gamer downloads it and performance sucks? The hardware vendor isn't going to get any grief, because all the user sees is the old levels working fine and the new one running like molasses in January. The problem's obviously with the game, right? Developers are worried about the support nightmare this approach will generate and the damage to their own brand when they get blamed.

Chris Evenden
PR Director
ATI Technologies
Owner / Editor-in-Chief - Elite Bastards
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