New NVIDIA Driver Enables MFAA for Maxwell GPUsNVIDIA today released GeForce Game Ready Driver 344.75 WHQL drivers and with the driver comes support for Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA). MFAA is an implementation of Anti-Aliasing (AA) that NVIDIA hopes will replace MSAA in the years to come. MSAA is one of the oldest and most popular forms of AA. MSAA removes jagged edges that increases graphic quality, however it does cause a decrease in system performance. NVIDIA thought that this is something that could be improved and came up with a new solution on the new Maxwell GPU series. That means MFAA requires GeForce GTX 980 and 970 'Maxwell' GPU powered desktop cards or GeForce GTX 980M and 970M mobile GPU's to run as the new AA technology needs the latest hardware to run on.
"Previous-generation GPUs include fixed sample patterns for anti-aliasing (AA) that are stored in Read Only Memory (ROM). When gamers selected 2x or 4x MSAA for example, fixed sample patterns were used. With Maxwell, we have introduced programmable sample positions for rasterization that are stored on Random Access Memory (RAM), creating opportunities for new, more flexible, more inventive AA techniques that uniquely address the challenges of modern game engines, such as the increased performance cost of high-quality anti-aliasing. Maxwell's new RAM-based sample position technology can still be programmed with standard MSAA and TXAA patterns, but now the driver or application may also load the RAM with custom positions that are free to vary from frame to frame, or even within a frame." - NVIDIANVIDIA says that MFAA is able to render graphics of 4x MFAA quality with a performance hit equal to that of running 2x MSAA while having the image quality equal to that of 4x MSAA. So, MFAA is said to deliver a 30% performance boost while maintaining smooth, high-quality edges by alternating sample calculations across each frame and each pixel. This means that users can increase the graphics quality without reducing their frame rate. Confused? Here is a great video where Tom Petersen from NVIDIA goes over MFAA and how NVIDIA is alternating AA sample patterns both temporally and spatially to give you the performance you want when gaming with the best image quality possible. The one major drawback for MFAA is that only a handful of game titles support MFAA. Right now there are 20 game titles that support MFAA. NVIDIA has plans to expand the supported titles with future driver updates. At time of release, the games that support MFAA will be:
|MFAA Supported Games as of November 17, 2014|
|Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag||Dirt Showdown||Hitman: Absolution|
|Assassin's Creed: Unity||F1 2013||Just Cause 2|
|Battlefield 4||F1 2014||Saints Row IV|
|Civilization V||Far Cry 3||Splinter Cell: Blacklist|
|Civilization: Beyond Earth||Far Cry: Blood Dragon||Titanfall|
|Crysis 3||GrID 2||Wargame: European Escalation|
|DiRT 3||GRID Autosport|
Test SystemBefore taking a look at the games used in testing NVIDIA's MFAA implementation, let's get some information on the test system and the process we used to test the games.
|The Intel Z97 Test System|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4690K||Click Here|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z97MX||Click Here|
|Memory||Kingston Blue 16GB 1866MHZ||Click Here|
|SSD||Intel 520 180GB||Click Here|
|Cooling||Corsair H105||Click Here|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake 850W||Click Here|
|GPU||ASUS Strix GTX 970 OC||Click Here|
Far Cry 3
FarCry 3 is a popular first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft. Being released in December 2012 using the Dunia Engine 2, which is based on the CryEngine. There is no built-in benchmarking utility, so using one of the built-in missions we will attempt to keep it as similar across the tests. Setting the graphics quality to Ultra we begin the testing.Running Far Cry 3 at 1920 x 1080, with MSAA set to 4x, we used the Ultra graphics setting to test the effects of MFAA. MSAA 4x Enabled MFAA Enabled Benchmark Results: Far Cry 3 we received an 18% performance increase when MFAA was enabled. That's not too bad for a simple driver update; it's like getting an updated GPU.
Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Electronics Arts. Released at the end of October 2013, it is the first game to use the latest Frostbite 3 engine featuring improved destruction of buildings and the environment very realistically and greatly improved animations. Battlefield 4 was also the first game to support AMD’s Mantle API, which we covered here.Battlefield 4, we were able to use the Ultra graphics quality setting along with setting MSAA to 4x. MSAA 4x Enabled MFAA Enabled Benchmark Results: Battlefield 4, we received an increase in performance resulting in a little more than a 9FPS gain in performance. That comes to a huge 22% performance increase with MFAA.
Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each testCrysis 3 was set to use the "Very High" graphics settings to push the graphics level up. MSAA 4x Enabled MFAA Enabled Benchmark Results: Crysis 3 received a 7FPS increase with MFAA, and while that doesn't seem like a lot, it is still around 15.25% boost in FPS.