NVIDIA Strikes Back - The GeForce2 Ultra 3D Monster

A Look Back In History, Continued

Let's now get to the facts. I ran each card under the fill rate test of 3DMark2000. This benchmark works fine as long as a pipeline isn't able to render more than two texels per clock. This is why the benchmark is useless for Radeon. It works great for all the NVIDIA cards though.

Please go ahead and compare this chart to the one from the beginning of this chapter. You will notice a significant difference. Only few chips come close enough to their theoretical fill rate limits under 16-bit color. At 32-bit color the memory bandwidth always gets in the way, usually halving the fill rate. This phenomenon is not only valid for NVIDIA cards. Every other 3D chip that has been released so far is suffering from the same problem. Some suffer more, some less. Please restrict your disappointment though! The actual increase in pixel fill rate from TNT to GeForce2 Ultra is even more than it would be if the theoretical numbers could have been met. Going from 140 MPixel/s to 790 MPixel/s is an increase of 465%. That's almost six fold in less than 2 years!

The story is the same with the texel fill rate of course. There's not much more to say. Still you can see that there was an immense improvement from TNT to GeForce2 Ultra. Going from 150 Mtexel/s to 1600 Mtexel/s is indeed an increase of almost 1000%.

Those numbers were all measured on an Asus CUSL2 i815 platform with a Pentium III at 1 GHz. I chose the resolution 1024x768 for both color depths. The new 'Detonator 3' driver rev. 6.16 was used.

This little excurse was supposed to point out the performance problems created by a lack of memory bandwidth on a 3D card. This is not at all a new problem. However, it became obvious only recently.

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