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The release notes for driver 296.10 mentioned that the driver "is a recommended upgrade for all GeForce users, especially those playing the latest hot PC games like....." and then it mentioned "Blacklight: Retribution", said the driver boosted its performance up to 1.8x, and I was wondering what the game was because I've never heard of it so I had to check it out. It's kind of a pleasant surprise. It's a first-person-shooter type game along the lines of Call of Duty and Halo and Unreal Tournament and runs on the Unreal engine. The most interesting thing that makes it stand out from those other games is that you can play it in DirectX 11 with Extreme Tessellation and with the MLAA (Morphological Anti-aliasing) built into the game and the MLAA seems to perform just as well for NVidia cards as NVidia's FXAA. I did not expect to see those graphics features perform so well in a fast-paced shooter game. Drivers have come a long way. Blacklight Retribution is in Open Beta at this time and has been for a couple of weeks. It's free, runs well, and it's interesting. The release date of the finished game is April 3, 2012. You can check out the game info and grab it over here: http://blacklight.perfectworld.com/
The anticipation and hype has been building. NVidia will soon release their next-generation video card code-named Kepler and most likely built-in FXAA will also be released at the same time with it. Recently at the Game Developers Conference they showed off the Samaritan game demo using a model of the Kepler card. They were touting the fact that when they demo'd the game one year ago it took three GTX 580's to run the demo but this time it only takes one Kepler card. But wait a minute. Haven't you heard about optimizing a game engine? Epic, the game developer, has had one whole year to optimize the game engine and that can make a huge difference in game performance. Then there's the FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) built into drivers. It is a post-processing Anti-aliasing technique and much faster than MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing) commonly found in most games. It is of higher-than-usual benefit to the game Samaritan because Samaritan uses a lot more deferred shading than a game usually does. We have recently seen some Heaven benchmarks involving the NVidia 295.18 driver which has the FXAA feature. Tested on Win 7 64-bit with a GTX 580, 4x Anisotropic, Ambient Occlusion off, 1920 x 1080 resolution. Scores - Min FPS - Avg FPS - Max FPS 2331 ----- 46.7 ----- 92.6 ----- 192.2 ---> DX 9, driver 296.10, 4x MSAA 2333 ----- 47.8 ----- 92.6 ----- 192.1 ---> DX 9, driver 295.18, 4x MSAA 2625 ----- 50.3 ---- 104.2 ----- 204.7 ---> DX 9, driver 295.18, FXAA ON 1824 ----- 35.1 ----- 72.4 ----- 169.1 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 296.10, 4x MSAA 1817 ----- 34.7 ----- 72.1 ----- 169.7 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 295.18, 4x MSAA 2053 ----- 46.3 ----- 81.5 ----- 181.6 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 295.18, FXAA ON In DirectX 9 tests the Average FPS is improved by 12.6% when using FXAA rather than 4x MSAA. In DirectX 11 with Normal Tessellation tests the Avg FPS is improved by 13.5% and the Min FPS is improved by a tremendous 33.4%. That's big. So yeah, I think we're going to see the FXAA come with the release of the drivers that come with the release of the Kepler cards. I've seen some mention that the NDA on discussing the card and the driver is off on Thu March 22 and I've seen some mention that NVidia is holding a press conference on Wed Mar 28. There's a little bit of hype in it all but without question we're going to want the end result whatever it is. Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/s5x3R.jpg FXAA option in the NVidia Control Panel. Note description at the bottom.