As most of you are unlikely aware. I have been e-mail contact with Nvidia over the issue regarding shimmering for the past few weeks.
Shimmering is a problem that can occur between mipmap transisitions on various hardware within the G70 series. Prior on the Geforce 6 series you could set the LoD clamp and turn on High Quality and shimmering would be removed. However it turns out that these fixes did not provide adequate results on Geforce 7 hardware.
Nvidia has provided me with an early beta sample of the drivers for testing purposes and feedback. It is very
important to understand that these preliminary
beta drivers and should be taken as such. There will likely be changes in the future to them.
My Quality Observations
The software used in these tests is extremely sensitive to shimmering and texturing. Most applications do not exhibit behavior similar to these tests in such a similar severity. And many would not see results comparable to this in most games. I would also like to point out. These tests are not perfect. And I dont claim them to be so. But they do adequately show and describe the problem/solution.
Quality 77.77 Geforce 7800GTX:
The "Shimmering" effect is fairly obvious on these tests. Multiple visible mipmap transistions can be seen.
High Quality 77.77 Geforce 7800GTX:
As has been reported. Even with High quality mode the Geforce 7800GTX would exhibit shimmering. While there is an improvement. Shimmering is not removed.
Quality 77.77 Geforce 6800GT:
The Geforce 6800GT in Quality mode exhibits slightly higher quality than the 7800GTX in Quality mode.
High Quality 77.77 Geforce 6800GT:
The Geforce 6800GT in High Quality modes offers fairly significant quality advantages over the 7800GTX in High Quality mode reducing shimmering significantly.
Geforce 7800GTX Quality Beta:
The filtering quality in Quality mode is still comparable to that in on the 77.77 drivers. I urge people to remember that these are still very beta and this could possibly change in the near future.
Geforce 7800GTX High Quality Beta:
When looking at the Geforce 7800GTX in High Quality mode. We can see that the quality is significantly increased. I have found the new 7800GTX HQ mode to be fairly comparable to the 6800GT High Quality mode with older drivers. Many games that experience shimmering have been fixed. It should be noted that it is unlikely that shimmering will ever disapear completely as there are multiple forms of aliasing across surfaces.
Geforce 7800GTX 77.77:
This is an uploaded WOW comparison to help people see the shimmering reduction from another software point of view. Both tests were performed in High Quality.
Geforce 7800GTX Beta:
This is an updated WoW comparison to help people see the shimmering reduction from another software point of view. Both tests were performed in High Quality.
Finding software that was consistently fillrate limited and exhibiting texture aliasing was a daunting task. I chose to use select tests from the futuremark 3dmark series which have shown themselves to be adequately bound by fillrate.
The graphs pretty much speak for themselves. While it is obvious that performance will vary software to software. I have found the performance differences between the old and new drivers in high quality mode to be nothing worth splitting hairs over and can easily be explained by a different driver revision. Considering this. People who have been playing in High Quality mode will not have to worry about a significant performance impact.
I am glad that Nvidia has been fast and reactive on this issue. Early beta drivers are looking promising and I expect future drivers to continue to improve upon what we are seeing here. I would like to thank Nvidia for their fast responces and for the work they have done on this already. I would also like to thank those who have helped me investigate the issue. Including Rys of hexus.net, ailuros over at beyond3d, and of course the nvnews staff for allowing me to cooridinate my research at nvnews.
These drivers are beta and could to be improved upon before release. The point of this post is to show people that Nvidia are indeed aware of the issue and actively working to improve it.. Keep in mind that changes could be made from the date I post this and the date the drivers go live. I will not be leaking these drivers. So do not ask.