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Philosophy of the synthetic tests

The main idea of all our tests is focusing on performance of one or another chip's subsystem. In contrast to real applications which measure effectiveness of accelerator's operation in one or another practical application integrally, synthetic tests stress on separate performance aspects. The matter is that a release of a new accelerator is usually a year away from applications which can use all its capabilities effectively. Any those users who want to be on the front line with technology have to buy one or another accelerator almost blindly, warmed only with results of the tests carried out on outdated software. No one can guarantee that the situation won't change with the games they are waiting for. Apart from such enthusiasts which take such risk, there are some other categories of people in such a complicated situation:

  • First category - people who don't want to mess up with upgrade and who buy a computer of the maximum configuration for a long time. It's very important for them to make the time of suitability of their machines for oncoming applications as long as possible.
  • Second category - software developers; they have to keep their eye on capabilities and balance of new accelerators to design and balance competently the engine (code) and content (levels, models) taking into account the effective usage of equipment which will become widespread by the time their applications get onto the market. The synthetic tests will help them choose ways for realization of their ideas and restrain the bounds of their imagination :-).
  • Third category - IT analysts (for example, from big trade companies) and hardware reviewers, i.e. the people who have to estimate potential of products when they are not officially announced yet.

So, synthetic tests allow estimating performance and capabilities of separate subsystems of accelerators in order to forecast accelerator's behavior in some or other applications, both existing (overall estimation of suitability and prospects for a whole class of applications) and developing, provided that a given accelerator demonstrates peculiar behavior under such applications.

Overview of the D3D RightMark synthetic tests

Pixel Filling

This test has several functions, namely:

  • Measurement of frame buffer filling performance
  • Measurement of performance of different texture filtering modes
  • Measurement of effectiveness of operation (caching) with textures of different sizes
  • Measurement of effectiveness of operation (caching and compression) with textures of different formats
  • Measurement of multitexturing effectiveness
  • Visual comparison of quality of implementation of some or other texture filtering modes

The test gives its results in FPS and FillRate. The latter plays two roles. In the no-texture mode we measure exactly the frame buffer write speed. In this respect, this parameter defines the number of pixels filled in per second - Pixel FillRate. In the texture mode it indicates the number of sampled and filtered texture values per second (Texturing Rate, Texture Fill Rate).

Geometry Processing Speed

This test measures the geometry processing speed in different modes. We tried to minimize the influence of filling and other accelerator's subsystems, as well as to make geometrical information and its processing as close to real models as possible. The main task is to measure the peak geometrical performance in different transform and lighting tasks. At present, the test allows for the following lighting models (calculated at the vertex level):

  1. Ambient Lighting - simplest constant lighting
  2. 1 Diffuse Light
  3. 2 Diffuse Lights
  4. 3 Diffuse Lights
  5. 1 Diffuse + Specular Light
  6. 2 Diffuse + Specular Lights
  7. 3 Diffuse + Specular Lights

The test results are available in FPS and PPS (Polygons Per Second).

Hidden Surface Removal

This test looks for techniques of removal of hidden surfaces and pixels and estimates their effectiveness, i.e. effectiveness of operation with a traditional depth buffer and effectiveness and availability of early culling of hidden pixels. The test generates a pseudorandom scene of a given number of triangles.

Which will be rendered in one of three modes:

  1. sorted, front to back order
  2. sorted, back to front order
  3. unsorted

In the second case the test renders all pixels in turn, including hidden ones, in case the accelerator is based on the traditional or hybrid architecture (a tile accelerator can provide optimization in this case as well, but remember that the sorting will take place anyway, even though on the hardware or driver levels).

In the first case the test can draw only a small number of visible pixels and the others can be removed yet before filling. In the third case we have some sort of a middle similar to what the HSR mechanism can encounter in real operations in applications that do not optimize the sequence of scene displaying. To get an idea on the peak effectiveness of the HSR algorithm it's necessary to collate the results of the first and second modes (the most optimal first mode with the least convenient second one). The comparison of the optimal mode with the unsorted one (i.e. the first and third) will give us an approximate degree of effectiveness in real applications.

Pixel Shading

This test estimates performance of various pixel shaders 2.0. In case of PS 1.1 the speed of execution of shaders translated into the stage settings could be easily defined, and it was needed to have only a test like Pixel Filling carried out with a great number of textures, in case of PX 2.0 the situation looks much more complicated. Instruction per clock execution and new data formats (floating-point numbers) can create a significant difference in performance not only when the accelerator architectures differ, but also on the level of combination of separate instructions and data formats inside one chip. We decided to use an approach similar to the CPU benchmarking for testing performance of pixel processors of modern accelerators, i.e. to measure performance of the following set of pixel shaders which have real prototypes and applications:

  • per-pixel diffuse lighting with per-pixel attenuation - 1 point source
  • per-pixel diffuse lighting with per-pixel attenuation - 2 point sources
  • per-pixel diffuse lighting with per-pixel attenuation - 3 point sources
  • per-pixel diffuse lighting + specular lighting with per-pixel attenuation (1 point source)
  • per-pixel diffuse lighting + specular lighting with per-pixel attenuation (2 point sources)
  • per-pixel diffuse lighting + specular lighting with per-pixel attenuation (3 point sources)
  • marble animated procedure texturing
  • fire animated procedure texturing

Two last tests implement the procedure textures (pixel color values are calculated according to a certain formula) which are an approximate mathematical model of the material. Such textures take little memory (only comparatively small tables for accelerated calculation of various factors are stored there) and support almost infinite detailing! They are easy to animate by changing the basic parameters. It's quite possible that future applications will use exactly such texturing methods as capabilities of accelerators will grow.

Point Sprites

This test measures performance of just one function: displaying of pixel sprites used for creating systems of particles. The test draws an animated system of particles resembling a human body. We can adjust a size of the particles (which will affect the fillrate), enable and disable light processing and animation. In case of a system of particles geometry processing is very important, that is why we didn't separate these two aspects - filling and geometrical calculations (animation and lighting) but made possible to change a load degree of one or another body part by changing sprite size and switching on/off their animation and lighting.

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