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NewBreed

OpenGL Misc D3D9 questions.

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Hi, My apologies, these aren't really progamming questions, although this still seemed the most relevant forum for this topic. I've been looking at DirectX and OpenGL and doing some comparing. I know one disadvantage (or an advantage depending on your POV) for OpenGL is that it is very much library based so there must be many checks for the hardware to see if you can use certain extensions to achieve a certain result. I assume that with DX being more structured that each version 9.0a/b/c brings in a new set of features and that GPU's are assigned a certain DirectX version that they are guaranteed to support. Is this correct, if so: 1) What is the reason for caps in pre-DX10? 2) What advantages does DirectX 10 bring as I thought that one of the big advantages was to unify GPU features? 3) Why the numerous cards if they all support the same features? Thanks, NB

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Before 10, what you have is a wide range of cards, each of which has lots of itty bitty features because the manufacturers were trying to outdo each other, or just because they managed to convince ARB or MS that it was worth allowing in the spec. So you ended up with a very large range of caps, most of which are utterly pointless.

What happens with versions of DX is that MS says "you absolutely must have these features to be called a DirectX 9 card" or whatever. It's an expression of feature set, not what DirectX versions can actually run on the machine. (Common mistake.) Cards were still allowed to go above and beyond, and so caps provided more information about that. (Plus since DirectX 9 could run on DX8 cards...you get the idea.)

With 10, MS decided to simplify this further, by making these stratifications much more specific. If you are a DX10 card you support exactly a certain feature set, and that's that. If you're a DX10.1 card that feature set expands by a very well defined set of features, no more no less.

As for all the different hardware -- why do we have ten different series of Athlons, Phenoms, Core 2s, Core i7s, etc? Same thing. They perform differently.

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Ah okay, I think I understand, pre DX10 cards must reach a certain DX version of features (irrelevant of performance of those features), but there can be more features available which are 'extras' and are used through the 'caps' method. But DX 10 states there is one feature set which must be met no more no less. Correct? Do the DX10 cards still allow for varying performance of DX10 features?

Thanks,
NB

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Quote:
Original post by NewBreed
But DX 10 states there is one feature set which must be met no more no less. Correct?
Spot-on [smile]

Quote:
Original post by NewBreed
Do the DX10 cards still allow for varying performance of DX10 features?
Performance is not in the specification/requirements, so yes the performance is up for grabs by anyone who wants it.

Think of it another way.

In the D3D9 era you could scale on two axis - features and performance. You could have more/less of either, say be a lightning fast SM2 card or an average SM3 card (not necessarily implying that more features equals slower perf though!). With D3D10 onwards you can only scale on performance - a single axis as the feature axis is now locked and non-negotiable.

Combinatorial explosion was the big problem. For D3D9 you could have roughly 4 grades of features (fixed function, sm1, sm2, sm3) and 3 performance grades (low, mid, high). That means you can have 12 types of D3D9 card that can all be accessed via the same software - break down those lists in more detail and you can easily see how you get to 100's if not 1000's of combinations.

Now remove the feature axis and you might have "budget performance", "medium performance", "high performance" and "super mega ultra gamer performance" models. You're suddenly down from 100's or 1000's to ~5.

Go on a step to Direct3D 11 and you can scale your geometry according to performance if you want. The new tesselation units allow you to write the exact same algorithm but increase the detail for your "super mega ultra gamer performance" card but drop it right back down for the "budget performance".


hth
Jack

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Its also my understanding that D3D10 and onward are also more stringent on image quality issues, by integrating certain buffer formats, filtering levels, etc into the validation process, whereas the criteria for meeting API compliance in this regard prior to D3D10 was much less stringent, if not non-existent.

While you can say that these things boil down to features, and in many ways they do, I believe the difference is that, by the old measuring stick, hardware vendors were largely left to define what was an acceptable level of quality regarding a feature area, whereas now Microsoft takes a more-active role in defining what that acceptable level of quality is.

JollyJeffers is right that D3D10 is about reducing the dimensional differences to a single axis, but I think that there was a least one more axis than what he alluded to in the days prior to D3D10.

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Quote:
Original post by Ravyne
Its also my understanding that D3D10 and onward are also more stringent on image quality issues
Absolutely - the spec has a lot to say on the topic of numerical and operator precision. 10.1 and 11 are largely the same but raise the barrier a little bit in a few places.

Quote:
Original post by Ravyne
I think that there was a least one more axis than what he alluded to in the days prior to D3D10.
Yes, the quality axis would be a valid addition to what I mentioned. After all, what good would a 3D API be if it only had 2D axis'?? [grin]


Jack

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