August 27, 2019 | 10:13
UL Benchmarks, the company formerly known as Futuremark, has announced public availability of a test for variable rate shading (VRS) in DirectX 12 as part of its 3DMark gaming-focused benchmark suite.
Announced as a feature of DirectX 12 earlier this year, variable rate shading (VRS) is designed to boost performance without sacrificing image quality. 'Traditionally, when developers set a game's shading rate, this shading rate is applied to all pixels in a frame,' explains Microsoft's Jacques van Rhyn. 'There's a problem with this: not all pixels are created equal.
'VRS allows developers to selectively reduce the shading rate in areas of the frame where it won’t affect visual quality, letting them gain extra performance in their games. This is really exciting, because extra perf means increased framerates and lower-spec’d hardware being able to run better games than ever before. VRS also lets developers do the opposite: using an increased shading rate only in areas where it matters most, meaning even better visual quality in games.'
For those looking to quantify the impact VRS has on their particular system, UL Benchmarks has announced an update to 3DMark to add VRS testing. 'The 3DMark VRS feature test is designed to help you compare differences in performance and image quality when using Variable Rate Shading' says UL's director of engineering Jani Joki of the new functionality. 'The test runs in two passes. VRS is disabled on the first pass of the test to provide a baseline for comparison. Variable Rate Shading is enabled for the second pass. The test then reports the average frame rate for each pass and calculates the performance gained with VRS.
'The VRS feature test also offers an interactive mode that lets you change variable rate shading settings on the fly to see how they affect the frame rate and image quality. The handy visualizer option shows you where each shading rate is used. To run this test, you will need Windows 10 version 1903 or later and a DirectX 12 GPU that supports Tier 1 VRS and the AdditionalShadingRatesSupported capability, such as an Nvidia Turing-based GPU or an Intel Ice Lake CPU.'
As with many of the more advanced features in 3DMark, though, VRS testing is not going to be coming to the free release any time soon: The functionality is only unlocked in 3DMark Advanced Edition and above, currently on sale at a 75 percent discount which drops the price to £5.74.
September 18 2020 | 18:30