WARP speed for Windows 7

WARP speed for Windows 7

Summary: The other day the eagle-eyed Long Zheng noticed a document on Microsoft's MSDN site outlining how Microsoft plans to allow DirectX 10 acceleration on the CPU.


The other day the eagle-eyed Long Zheng noticed a document on Microsoft's MSDN site outlining how Microsoft plans to allow DirectX 10 acceleration on the CPU.

WARP (which stands for Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform) basically gives users DirectX 10/10.1 support without needing a GPU. The minimum spec will call for an 800MHz CPU, and in return for this modest investment you get Direct3D 10 and 10.1 support, 8x multi-sampled anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering and optional texture formats. According to Microsoft this is the perfect solution for a variety of situations:

  • When the user does not have any Direct3D capable hardware
  • When running as a service or in a server environment
  • When no video card installed
  • When a video driver is not available, or is not working correctly
  • When a video card is out of memory, hangs or would take too many system resources to initialize.

Microsoft has also posted frames per second (FPS) performance data for CPU-powered DirectX, comparing running Crysis at 800x600 with all the quality settings on their lowest settings on a range of systems:

  • Core i7 8 Core @ 3.0GHz - 7.36FPS
  • Penryn 4 Core @ 3.0GHz - 5.69FPS
  • Phenom 9550 4 Core @ 2.2GHz - 3.01FPS
  • Core 2 Duo @ 2.6GHz - 2.83FPS

Compare this to Intel-supplied integrated graphics:

  • Intel DX10 Integrated - 5.17FPS

And a range of ATI and NVIDIA GPUs:

  • NVIDIA 8800 GTS - 84.80FPS
  • ATI 3400 - 37.18FPS
  • NVIDIA 8400 GS - 33.89FPS
  • ATI 2400 PRO - 29.83FPS

Now getting 7.36FPS out of Crysis at any resolution and graphics settings without a GPU is an achievement, but I'm pretty sure that you'll agree that 7.36FPS out of an 8-core dual Core i7 isn't going to wow gamers. In fact, given these performance figures I really don't see WARP being suited to gaming at all because a good GPU is cheap enough not to matter. Even on notebooks, I really can't see people cranking their CPUs full-blast just for a few frames per second gaming. It's just not worth it when a $50 graphics card will blow it out of the water. Now, what WARP is about is not gaming but allowing Windows 7 to run Aero UI without the need for a GPU.

But ... one question. How hard does this hit the CPU, and what effect will this have on battery life for notebook users?

So, does this pave the way for Crysis on a dual Core i7 EeePC?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Processors, Windows

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  • Core i7 8-core???

    "8-core dual Core i7"

    WTF is that?

    All current Core i7's are quad-core with Hyperthreading. It runs 8 threads, which is NOT the same as an 8-core. The 4 cores run at full speed, but can balance 2 threads each, which can improve efficiency and CPU availability, thus giving you a more responsive system under load.

    An 8-core it is not.
    • It is seen by the OS as 8

      "Re-implemented Hyper-threading. Each of the four cores can process two threads simultaneously, so the processor appears to the OS as eight CPUs."
    • you know what he meant

      stop nit-picking. XP tells me my pentium 4 HT has 2 cores.
  • Needed something to counter Compiz-Fusion (nt)

    • You seem to be confused what Compiz Fusion is. (NT)

  • RE: WARP speed for Windows 7

    Too late, Apple Quarts did it in OS X from day one and as
    GPU got more power put into them and became
    programable, came along Quarts extreme from apple's OS
    X, if you had no GPU capable it would divert to Quarts, but
    as time passed and GPU has become more used and older
    Quarts method squeezed out, and guess what Microsoft
    found one of Apple's #2, yes apple mist the tolet and left a
    WARP on the floor for Microsoft to pick up.

    I work on bothe platforms so not just a Mac users I am
    also a PC users.

    And have seen how year after year Windows got new stuff
    that was regarded as old on the Mac and OS X moved on
    and Windows seems to follow, some things Microsoft did
    first but most all Done by Apple, Xeros, Sun and others.

    ClearType, Apple's 20 year old tech, and WARP is just
    Apple's first Quarts engine that was used in the early OS X

    WARP was needed in Vista, most users will have GPU
    capable for Windows 7 as Microsoft has forced users to
    upgrade or buy new PCs.
    • WARP is not that new...

      ...DirectX has had a software rendering for a long time now, called Reference Rasterizer. It was mostly for debugging to check the output of the GPU for errors, hence the reference part.

      WARP I think is bringing that debugging system to a production/consumer level.

      Example of Reference Rasterizer usage:

      BTW, not everything in Windows is old when compared to Mac OS X. For example Time Machine, the same concept has existed in Windows since ME and has evolved since then.
      • BTW...

        You really don't want to be using software rendering, you want to be forced to update your graphics hardware to get the full benefits otherwise the experience is just going to be painful. Just as it is to run on Quarts instead of Quarts Extreme. You want to be running graphics/UI on a GPU!
      • I'm sorry

        What windows ME concept was like "Time Machine"?

        I can see software rendering being added to DirectX as a
        result of greater windows 7 UI reliance on these features and
        the court case currently taken against MS for their commercial decision to lower GPU requirements for Vista.
        The later was described by Jim Allchin head of Vista labelled
        as "misleading to customers" (no wonder he left).
        Richard Flude
        • Time Machine

          [i]What windows ME concept was like "Time Machine"?[/i]

          System Restore?
        • It goes from...

          System Restore in Window ME and XP

          Shadow Copy introduced in Window XP SP1 which handles making snapshots of a volume.

          Windows Server 2003 expanded on Shadow Copy, it periodically takes snapshots of the entire volume it is active on, while another feature called Shadow copies for Shared Folders created incremental periodic snapshots or Deltas of files.

          In Windows Vista System Restore is now built on Shadow Copy and Shadow copies for Shared Folders is now referred to as Previous Version. Both of which utilize the existing volume snapshots created by Shadow Copy.
    • Isn't Quartz spelled with a Z? (nt)

  • RE:WARP speed for Windows 7

    "So, does this pave the way for Crysis on a dual Core i7 EeePC?"

    Why for ?
    As you noticed the only interesting use of this capability is to run AERO on PC with underpowered GPU,especially those crappy Intel integrated GPU.
    Assuming that AERO is much more significant with Windows 7 than with Windows Vista, thanks to the new taskbar, it is important that as many PC as possible, and especially netbooks, were possible to run it.
    However if alternatives to intel chipset (with either Nvidia or ATI built-in GPU) or more powerful intel chipset become more frequent,especially for netbooks, WARP could be not really needed.
  • RE: WARP speed for Windows 7

    Maybe they are just getting this ready, anticipating Intel is going to have even faster processors with more cores in the future. Your numbers seem to indicate this scales well with the # of cores. If they are getting 7.36FPS on the current i7 (4 core, 8 threads), it will be even better on the 6 and 8 core processors that will be out next year and then even better a couple of years down the road when Win7 really starts getting adopted.
    • Might be great if ...

      ... you have quad Core i7's ...
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Gonna need a LOT more than that to compete with a GPU.

      GPUs have very close, very fast dedicated memory and use a double digit (sometimes 100+ for the high end) number of stream processors - you're going to need a lot more than a few more cores to compete with them.

      The GPUs are 10x the performance of the software renderer: You're going to need at least 40 cores to even start competing!
      • 3D in the browser...

        I wonder if this has to do with supporting Silverlight's fairly advanced graphical capabilities on low-end hardware? Just a thought...
  • Hmmm, helping AMD maybe?

    AMD would certainly like to incorporate the GPU (what we think of as the GPU) into the CPU and has said so for some time. This would be a sweet way for AMD to get a leg up. MS sends all the DirectX commands/requests to the systems CPU, AMD's CPU/GPU combination decides the best way to handle it.

    Yes I know AMD is a ways from that, but the process has to start somewhere.
    • I guess not just AMD

      I think its pretty much a given the GPU is constantly moving closer to the CPU. Seems like a logical path for MS to take. Even if the current crop of PCs isn't really up to it just yet.
  • Wow


    I never, ever imagined that after the rise of the video card and the fall of software renderers that I'd ever see a serious attempt at software renderer again.

    . . . and not just a software renderer, but a fully featured one as well! I'm also amazed that Microsoft thought it was important enough to invest the time to create something like this - a software renderer is a complex piece of software.

    It outperformed the Intel integrated graphics, eh? Quite frankly, that pretty much confirms what I've experienced with integrated graphics whenever I've tried a machine with integrated graphics. Integrated graphics are slow.

    I'm still a bit surprised it beat the integrated graphics, though - even integrated should have some acceleration. This pretty much solidifies my opinion that you should never go with integrated if you want to play games, even on a laptop and even if it's DirectX 10. It has to be dedicated if you want to play any of today's games.

    But that shouldn't really be a problem with graphics cards being cheaper than $25. You can even get DirectX 10 cards for that price if you know where to look.

    As they pointed out, it can't hold up against any of the dedicated graphics cards. All of their benchmarks show the dedicated cards to be an order of magnitude faster; even a $25 card will handily beat the software renderer.

    "But ? one question. How hard does this hit the CPU, and what effect will this have on battery life for notebook users?"

    [b]HARD.[/b] I can see this easily overheating poorly designed notebooks, and making even well designed notebooks too hot to have on a lap. This will easily peg any and all cores on a system to 100% and keep it there.

    Battery life? Take the battery life of playing a high definition video the entire time - and cut that in half. This will push a computer to its limits harder than high def video will, easily. You're performing an insane number of operations on every triangle, on every texture, and on every pixel. The number of calculations required for doing this task in software is incredible, even if you do a lot of compiling and optimization.

    "So, does this pave the way for Crysis on a dual Core i7 EeePC?"

    No. Even with the i7, I doubt you'd break an average of 4 fps on a dual core machine.