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On the bench

This article on Tom's Hardware Guide gives an excellent overview of the brouhaha around the new Futuremark benchmark and NVidia. It sounds to me as if NVidia is doing whatever it can to kill the impression that ATI overtook them in the 3D hardware race - unsuccessfully, I might add.

With Jason Rubin saying at GDC that, starting now, improvements in graphics are giving diminishing returns in mass appeal, and Microsoft saying they're not going to do another DirectX for another couple of years (until Longhorn ships in 2005 or so - about the time we will be hearing about the next console generation), it's going to be interesting to see how this affects the 3D hardware industry. Apart from displacement mapping, which has not yet become a standard element of either hardware or software, all improvements since the introduction of pixel shaders have been incremental and evolutionary. We've had all-hardware implementations of OpenGL for some time now, the Silicon Graphics workstations of legend (10 years ago) have long been overtaken, and games are only just now starting to use pixel and vertex shaders (due to game development cycles that are about twice as long as hardware development cycles, and the need to support an ever-broadening spectrum of hardware).