NVIDIA’s Variable-Rate Shading Now Included In Futuremark 3DMark
Benchmarking The Frames Never Drawn
Variable-Rate Shading, aka VRS has been baked into DX12 for a while now, and occasionally used in games; Civ 5 being an example. It allows NVIDIA and Intel graphics processors to vary the shading rate within a specific parts of single frame to increase performance. This variance is applied to areas of deep shadow which have little detail or areas far from the camera and peripheral to the player’s focus so theoretically you will not notice any reduction in video quality but you should see an increase in performance. AMD seems to be working on a similar technology of their own, as of now Radeon cards cannot manage VRS.
There are two levels to VRS, Tier 1 allows the card to provide different shading rates for each draw call while Tier 2 hardware can additionally support VRS within each draw call. The reason to bring this up again is that will find newer examples of this in Wolfenstein: Youngblood as well as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare when it is released, and so we need to be able to benchmark the effect VRS has on your framerates.
Futuremark has come to the rescue, with a free update to their 3DMark Advanced and Professional Editions which adds in a VRS benchmarking tool. Currently the tool is only able to benchmark Turing cards, and will give us the tools we need to establish our expectations on how effective VRS is before testing it in game. If you have the hardware and software required, fire up a brand new 3DMark benchmark to see for yourself … if you don’t have 3D Mark it happens to be 75% off on Steam at the moment.