3DMark06 Under the Magnifying Glass

3DMark History

In a joint project between VNU European Lab, a Netherlands based publishing company, and Remedy Entertainment, a Finish game development studio, Final Reality was unleashed on the public. This was one of the first attempts to develop a stand alone graphics benchmark for the masses. At this time Remedy Entertainment was also a shareholder in another company, MadOnion, which would later become Futuremark.

The first benchmark bearing the 3DMark title debuted in October 1998. It was a DirectX 6 benchmark that introduced game tests with specific testing capabilities, to make possible comparisons between various graphics hardware. Remedy worked closely with MadOnion, who licensed the MAX-FX engine for this benchmarking suite, and added enhancements like bump map testing. The MAX-FX engine was also used in Max Payne, and a modified version went into Max Payne 2.

On December 6, 1999, 3DMark 2000 was launched. This new suite benchmarked the fixed function T&L capabilities of video cards under DirectX 7 (Direct3D). NV10, otherwise known as GeForce 256, represented the first graphics processor that allowed the offloading of various geometry calculations to a special hardware transform and lighting engine. For existing hardware lacking a T&L engine, support was provided via a software T&L pipe.

GeForce 256 boasted 23 million transistors and sported DDR-SGRAM

In March 2001, 3DMark returned as 3DMark2001, with three DirectX 7.0 tests, and support for DirectX 8.0 in a fourth test. Of course only the latest graphics hardware would run the last test, but that is why people considered 3DMark to be a forward-looking benchmark. This suite included the ability to test full screen anti-aliasing (FSAA) and added DOT3 and Environment Mapped Bump Mapping tests.

In 2002, MadOnion formally became known as Futuremark Corporation. With shader technology moving things forward, Futuremark Corporation created 3DMark03. This benchmark suite moved away from the MAX-FX engine, and used more of a wrap to load shader programs and artwork into the shaders. Futuremark used a more complex engine version to render dynamic stencil shadows in the second and third game tests, as well as in the "Ragtroll" test. 3DMark03 also included Havok's Game Dynamics SDK to provide real-time physics functionality, like Pixel Shader 1.4, which added bloom and depth of field to the game tests. The fourth test, Mother Nature, brought the first Shader Model 2.0 functionality for the vertex and pixel shading units.

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