ATI versus nVidia — DirectX 10 Benchmarking

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New Benchmark – Old Version

By now, we’ve all been beaten to death with all the DirectX 9 benchmarking on DirectX 10 capable cards because no DirectX 10 benchmark game titles were available to be benchmarked.  I’ve been saying for months that the NVIDIA and ATI battle doesn’t mean anything till we see some performance numbers on the DirectX 10. Before the launch of the ATI Radeon HD 2000 Series AMD and ATI seeded the press with benchmark copies of the upcoming DirectX 10 game title Call of Juarez.  Finally, we had a benchmark that we could use to run DirectX 10 material and it was from a real game that consumers were able to purchase.

Once we fired up the benchmark and started running it on the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX we noticed the application wouldn’t run when any level of Anti-Aliasing was enabled.  I contacted both ATI and NVIDIA letting them know that a benchmark was given to the media that didn’t run correctly on one of the brands.  It’s here where things started to get a bit interesting!

Call of Juarez DX10

I contacted several people at AMD, NVIDIA, Techland and Ubisoft and quickly found out that AMD wanted the benchmark used, NVIDIA said they had a newer build that worked, Techland was scared to upset AMD and Ubisoft was smart enough to talk off the record and admit we had early code that we more than likely shouldn’t have gotten. No one ever did help us get the latest benchmark utility even though no one denied one being out there. Before jumping into the benchmark, lets take a look at what some of the companies said.

AMD.ATI’s Statement:

“The game’s developer, Techland has found that this was caused by an application issue when MSAA is enabled. The benchmark can be run on both ATI Radeon and NVIDIA hardware with MSAA disabled. This application issue will be fixed in an upcoming patch available in the next couple of weeks. The full DirectX 10 version of Call of Juarez will be available to the public sometime in June with full functionality for all DirectX 10 capable graphics cards.”

NVIDIA’s Statement:

“NVIDIA has a long standing relationship with Techland and their publisher Ubisoft. In fact, the original European version of Call Of Juarez that was launched in September 2006 is part of the “The Way Its Meant To Be Played” program. As a result of the support Techland and Ubisoft receives for being part of the “The Way Its Meant To Be Played” program, NVIDIA discovered that the early build of the game that was distributed to the press has an application bug that violates DirectX 10 specifications by mishandling MSAA buffers, which causes DirectX 10 compliant hardware to crash. Our DevTech team has worked with Techland to fix that and other bugs in the Call of Juarez code. Benchmark testing for reviews should be performed with the latest build of the game that incorporates the DirectX 10 fixes. Previous builds of the game should not be used for benchmarking with or without AA. For details on how to get the patch and for further information please contact Techland or Ubisoft.”

Techland’s Statement from CEO Pawel Marchewka

“We’re not really sure which version was supplied to you. For the newest version you need to contact your contact at AMD, they have exclusive rights to distribute this benchmark. I’m not sure about why you were given an older version. I guess it probably was the newest version at that time. Our priority is making Call of Juarez the first and the best optimized DX10 game. The benchmark is updated at the same time more or less frequently. But as far as I know AMD is going to send the newest version to the Press very soon.”

Call of Juarez Logo

Basically it seemed that we were getting run in a circle as each company told us to contact the other company and no one would give up the latest benchmark build. At first I wasn’t going to use the benchmark utility as when a company hands you a disc and says try this out it throws off every red flag in my book, not to mention the fact that the benchmark utility was based off an old build version that had bugs fixed in newer versions. After running the benchmark and taking screenshots to compare the image quality I couldn’t resist not running this benchmark as the findings were actually not in AMD’s favor. Yes, the benchmark that AMD and ATI handed out the to the press for the launch of the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT actually played out to favor NVIDIA even though the latest build was not handed out to the media.

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