Monday, October 20, 2008

Midnight Club: Los Angeles

Tomorrow is the day. Midnight Club Los Angeles will launch tomorrow. This is the third game I worked on for Rockstar. If you are into racing games you need to check it out :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hardware GPU / SPU / CPU

I follow all the discussions about the future of game hardware with talks about Larrabee and GPUs and the death of 3D APIs and -depending on the view point- different hardware designs. 

The thing I figure is that all this is quite interesting and inspiring but our cycles of change in computer graphics and graphics programming are pretty long. Most of the stuff we do is based on research papers that were released more than 30 years ago and written on typewriters.
Why should any new piece of hardware change all this in a very short amount of time?

There is a game market out there that grows in double digit percentage numbers on all kind of hardware. How much of this market and its growth would be influenced by any new hardware?

Some of the best distributed game hardware is pretty old and following most standards, sub-performant. Nevertheless it offers entertainment that people enjoy.

So how important is it if we program a CPU/SPU/GPU or whatever we call the next thing. Give me a washing machine with a display and I make an entertainment machine with robo rumble out of it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

S3 Graphics Chrome 440 GTX

I bought a new S3 Chrome 440 GTX in the S3 online store. I wanted to know how this card is doing, especially because it is DirectX 10.1 compatible. The other reason why I bought it was that it has a HDMI output. Just putting it into my desktop machine was interesting. I removed a 8800 GTS which was really heavy and than this card that was so small and didn't even need an extra power supply. It looks like some of my graphics cards from the end of the 90th when they started to put fans on the cards. With the small fan it should be possible to passively cool that card easily.

I just went through the DirectX 10 SDK examples. Motion Blur is about 5.8 fps and NBodyGravity is about 1.8 fps. The instancing example runs with 11.90 fps. I use the VISTA 64-bit beta drivers The other examples run fast enough. The CPU does not seem to become overly busy.
Just saw that there is a newer driver. The latest driver which is WHQL'ed has the version number 248. The motion blur example runs with 6.3 fps with some artefacts (the beta driver had that as well), Instancing ran with 11.77 fps and the NBodyGravity example with 1.83 fps ... probably not an accurate way to measure this stuff at all but at least it gives a rough idea.

The integrated INTEL chip 4500 MHD in my notebook is slower than this but then it supports at least DX10 and the notebook is super light :-) ... for development it just depends for me on the feature support (Most of the time I prototype effects on PCs).
While playing around with the two chipsets I just found out that the mobile INTEL chip also runs the new DirectX 10.1 SDK example Depth of Field with more than 20 fps. This is quite impressive. The Chrome 440 GTX is running this example with more than 100 fps. The new Raycast Terrain example runs with 19.6 fps on the Chrome and with less 7.6 fps on the Mobile INTEL chip set. The example that is not running on the Mobile INTEL chip is the ProceduralMaterial example. It runs with less than 1 fps on the Chrome 440 GTX.
Nevertheless it seems like both companies did their homework with the DirectX SDK.
So I just ran a bunch of ShaderX7 example programs against the cards. While the INTEL Mobile chip shows errors in some of the DirectX9 examples and crashes in some of the DirectX 10 stuff, the Chrome seems to even take the DirectX 10.1 examples that I have, that usually only run on ATI hardware ... nice!
One thing that I haven't thought of is GLSL support. I thought that only ATI and NVIDIA have GLSL support but S3 seems to have it as well. INTEL's mobile chip does not have it so ...

I will try out the 3D Futuremark Vantage Benchmark. It seems a Chrome 400 Series is in there with a score of 222. Probably not too bad considering the fact that they probably not pay Futuremark for being a member of their program.
Update October 4th: the S3 Chrome 440 GTX did 340 as the Graphics score in the trial version of the 3D Mark Vantage.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Old Interview

Just bumped into an old interview I gave to I still think everything in there is valid

While reading it I thought it is kind of boring. Many of my answers are so obvious ... maybe this is just my perception. How can you make it into the game industry? Probably on the same way you can make it into any industry. Lots of education or luck or just being at the right time at the right place and then being creative, a good thinker etc.. There is no magic trick I think ... it all comes with lots of sweat.