|Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic NE/960TSX0202|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 30 May 2008|
Page 9 of 13
Lightsmark Frame Rates
Stepan Hrbek is the mastermind behind Lightmark 2007, a program that allows you to benchmark real-time global illumination. Natural lighting makes artificial graphics life-like and real. Computers get faster, but rendering more polygons doesn't add value if lighting still looks faked, so insiders know that the next big thing is proper lighting; aka Realtime Global Illumination.
Typical workloads in real-time rendering will shift, and Lightsmark simulates it. Global Illumination renders often take hours, so is your computer fast enough for real-time?
Before Lightsmark, real-time global illumination was limited to small scenes, small resolutions, small speeds, specially crafted scenes with handmade optimizations. Lightsmark breaks all limits at once, running in reasonably sized scene (220000 triangles) in high resolutions at excellent speed.
Lighting is computed fully automatically in an original unmodified scene from 2007 game World of Padman. This benchmark is not tweaked for Lightsmark, and contains all sorts of geometrical difficulties with extra rooms hidden below the floor.
This scene places medium to low demands on a graphics card processor and tests the maximum speed with which the scene can be properly displayed at each resolution. At the lower resolution, the large frame buffer does not come to offer the same benefits. A larger video memory means a longer round-trip for information, and when the resolution is low that trip needs to be completed very quickly.
This is our first evidence that matching the video card to the rest of your hardware is just as important as matching it to the task. Notice from this test that Lightsmark doesn't favor the goliath 9800 GX2, or any particular GPU generation more than another. In fact, our GeForce 9800 GX2 was outperformed in every single Lightsmark test by the snappy AMP!'ed 8800 GT and 9800 GTX video cards.
After all of the Lightsmark tests were complete, I'm sure these results aren't going to indicate anything particular to most readers. As I mentioned before, the frame buffer has a whole lot to do with the speed of rendering. The larger the frame buffer, the longer it will take to complete the strobe of informaton. So how does this relate to you and your choice of hardware or video games?
With Crysis tested at 1600x1200, the frame buffer was not as critical as raw processing power. It helped, but obviously it didn't make a margin of difference since the results were nearly identical for the two cards above and below the Palit 9600 GT. In Lightsmark, information is passed through the buffer and called on very quickly, and the only thing which was going to benefit this test was the appropriate ratio of Stream Processors to vRAM. In terms of performance, this test offers very short but taxing graphics, and only the most nimble products with capable muscle can take advantage. You will see this experience to be relative to 3D game titles using older engines such as COD4, Doom 3, or Quake 4.
In the next section we change gears and test to compare our group of video cards in Supreme Commander.