I think the primary benefits would be seen by moving to VS 2.0 extended (while keeping the visuals the same), for 3DMark03. That is, it has been shown that per-vertex branching can help with skinning.
As for visual differences, 3DMark01 had an "advanced pixel shader test," didn't it?
It makes NO SENSE to move or support PS 2.0 *extended*. Becuase its not any kind of an industry standard. Its just some extra junk Nvidia tossed on their card for marketing purposes.
PS 2.0 *extended* is not a recognized and accepted DX9 Standard. Its a hybrid bastard child of Nvidias own creation. You cannot make comparrisons to PS 1.4 with this, because PS 1.4 *IS* a recocnized Standard and *included* within the DX8.1 and DX9 spec.
What there is iincluded is PS 2.0 and PS 3.0
You want 3dmark03 to add support for more DX9 shader features? Then it needs to be PS 3.0 not some half backed shader support that *ONE* IHV dreamed up trying to do their own thing.
I am all for adding more PS DX9 features to 3dmark03. But lets make them Conform to Microsoft and the rest of the industries *RECOGNIZED* Standards. Like more diverse PS 2.0 tests, or even better PS 3.0 tests. After all the R400 is a PS 3.0 card. The Nv35 might be as well.
It is pretty obvious that the Nv30 is only going to be released in limited quantities before they move to the Nv35. Why Screw up an industry standard benchmark for the sake of one Ill Concieved, poorly executed, limited release product??