When I covered the launch of Futuremark's 3DMark05 initially, I made a lot of noise about their inclusion of depth stencil texture acceleration on NVIDIA hardware, along with percentage closer filtering, as a means to extract good performance from 3DMark05's new lighting algorithms when rendering shadows. What I didn't really cover is what DSTs actually are (while at its most general, it's really just a set of pixel formats used for the texture, there's a bit more to it than that) and whether they're really likely to make it into a future version of DirectX.
What I also didn't cover was performance on anything other than a GeForce 6800 Ultra. While the GeForce 6 was a convenient card to use, since it allowed me to examine DSTs, it didn't really show how it stacked up to the other popular cards on the market.
So this article exists to tidy up some of my own self-inflicted loose ends. I'll talk a bit more about DSTs and NVIDIA's implementation of PCF in hardware, and I'll also look at performance across seven PCI Express graphics cards from both ATI and NVIDIA, before examining the feature tests that 3DMark05 provides.
Let's plough right in. If you're not too bothered about the inner workings of DSTs or PCF, skip to page four instead. Otherwise, click for the next page. I'll assume you've read the first part of my look at 05, or have an understanding of how its new shadowing system works from elsewhere, since the next page serves to clean up some loose ends from part one.