In the Forums...
Posted: October 1, 2001
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
New Features of the nfiniteFX Engine (cont.)
Shadow Buffers are used to create very realistic shadows. The shadows are rendered from the light's point of view, and then the shadows are rendered from the eye's point of view. This allows shadows to be extremely accurate, and to have soft edges. The best example we can relate to this is Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Granted the GeForce3 Ti500 could not render this movie in real time, but the technology behind the movie is slowly making its way toward video games.
Some day it'll happen...
(from: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within)
3D Textures allow for some awesome effects. Imagine adding a z-axis to a texture. You could make such things as smoke, fog, and spotlights with minimal effort. The effects should be much more realistic than what we've seen in the past. Some games have offered cool smoke/fog effects (Quake3, for example, or even Sports Car GT when you do a huge smoking burnout), but if developers take advantage of this feature (which they likely will), you should see some incredible scenes without slowdowns. Nvidia also noted that its 3D texture compression offers an 8:1 ratio, which takes a 256 x 256 x 256 x 32bpp texture down from 64 MB to 8 MB. The maximum size for these 3D textures is 512 x 512 x 512.
In addition to these new features, Nvidia made it high priority to optimize the GF3/Ti500 for Windows XP. Nvidia has an excellent relationship with Microsoft that has resulted from the X-Box deal, and consequently they have a handful of developers (I think the number is 11) that work with Microsoft full time to develop and optimize drivers for Windows XP. Although we have not done any lab tests here with the new drivers and Windows XP, we are told by Nvidia that the performance increase from the OS change alone is more than significant.
Although Nvidia lists these features of the GeForce3 Ti500 as new, we can be assured that it's all in the drivers, and the new features are applicable to plain-jane GeForce3s as well.