The other day the eagle-eyed Long Zhengnoticed 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?