iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB

February 18, 2003

As usual, before we proceed to analysis of the new accelerator we recommend that you read the analytic article scrutinizing the architecture and specifications of the NVIDIA GeForce FX (NV30)


  1. General information
  2. Peculiarities of the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB video card 
  3. Test system configuration and drivers' settings 
  4. Test results: briefly on 2D 
  5. RightMark3D synthetic tests: philosophy and tests description
  6. Test results: RightMark3D: Pixel Filling 
  7. Test results: RightMark3D: Geometry Processing Speed 
  8. Test results: RightMark3D: Hidden Surface Removal 
  9. Test results: RightMark3D: Pixel Shading 
  10. Test results: RightMark3D: Point Sprites 
  11. Test results: 3DMark2001 SE synthetic tests 
  12. Additional theoretical information and summary on the synthetic tests
  13. Information on anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing
  14. Architectural features and prospects
  15. Test results: 3DMark2001 SE: Game1 
  16. Test results: 3DMark2001 SE: Game2 
  17. Test results: 3DMark2001 SE: Game3 
  18. Test results: 3DMark2001 SE: Game4 
  19. Test results: 3DMark03: Game1 
  20. Test results: 3DMark03: Game2 
  21. Test results: 3DMark03: Game3 
  22. Test results: 3DMark03: Game4 
  23. Test results: Quake3 ARENA 
  24. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter 
  25. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein 
  26. Test results: Code Creatures DEMO 
  27. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003 DEMO 
  28. Test results: AquaMark 
  29. Test results: RightMark 3D 
  30. Test results: DOOM III Alpha version 
  31. 3D quality: Anisotropic filtering
  32. 3D quality: Anti-aliasing
  33. 3D quality in general
  34. Conclusion 

Pixel Shading

This test is only for R300 and NV30 as the hardware execution of pixel shaders 2.0 is the minimal requirement here. On the good old GeForce4 Ti 4600 coupled with 2 GHz Pentium 4 the software emulation of the pixel shaders 2.0 provides only one frame per 2 seconds in the small window. 

  1. Shaders 2.0: 

  2. What a surprise! In case of complicated texture sampling the NV30 is sometimes twice as good as the R300, but in case of pixel calculations within the shaders 2.0 it performs twice worse than the R300! Thus, the floating-point operations are carried out on the NV30 twice slower than integer ones. And according to the test, they are twice slower than on the R300. Well, this is again the cost of flexibility. The pixel pipeline of the NV30 is much more flexible, it is not limited by the PS 2.0 and allows or a large number of instructions and constants including instructions with logic predicates. Is such cost worth paying? It is only if the developers are going to use widely these additional features for the NV30 architecture. But will they? The experience tells me that they will go only with the maximum common multiple between ATI and NVIDIA, i.e. in this case it will be PS 2.0, probably with additional modifiers from PS 2.X that support R300 and NV30. But additional instructions and constants will hardly be enabled. 

    One of the reason of such loss is that the NV30 stores constants as additional instructions in the shader's code. Probably, such instructions used for constants require both memory and clocks. 

  3. Let's see whether the results change in case of forcing floating-point calculations with 16bit (half) precision possible in PS 2.X: 

  4. No difference - even if the half-precision forcing really takes place, it doesn't affect the speed of calculations. Undoubtedly, the pixel shaders will be further improved for compilation in the drivers, but I doubt that such big advantage of the R300 will be outdone. Let's wait for R400 and NV40 which promise to be both flexible and very fast in dealing with pixel and vertex shaders. 

  5. Finally, the dependence on resolution for both chips: 

  6. Well, everything depends only on the number of shaded pixels. 

Point Sprites

  1. With lighting and without, depending on size: 

  2. As expected, the lighting influences only small sprites; in case of big ones the performance is limited by the fill rate. The BORDER=1 is at the size of 8. So, for rendering systems of a big number of particles the size should be less than 8. Up to 8 NVIDIA outsmarts ATI - the decrease is not so noticeable, it is monotonous and small. ATI starts losing badly between 4 and 8. But in case of big sprites it is the NV30's turn to lose - because of shortage of the memory throughput. 

    The peak values are achieved without lighting and run into a bit over 21 M sprites per second for the RADEON 9700 PRO and a bit over 24 for GeForce FX 5800 Ultra. 

    But the point sprites are not the cure-all, the figures are not much better than with usual polygons. However, the point sprites are handier in programming and, first of all, for all possible systems of particles. 

  3. Let's see how animation and shader version influences the performance: 

  4. Well, the animation's contribution is not great but noticeable, irrespective of the VS version. 

Here we finish the first broad benchmarking using the synthetic tests for API DX9 from 3D. 

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Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
Alexander Medvedev (unclesam@ixbt.com

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