Shader Model 3.0?

Which upcoming games will feature SM 3.0? I heard S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (ROFL), BF 2 and AOEIII will feature SM 3, but I am currently not so sure wether thats an argument pro or against the buy of a NVidia card.

Shader Model 3 is not all that different from the higher levels of shader model 2. There is some useful stuff like vFace and the gradient instructions, and you get longer shader lengths. Also I guess you get dynamic branching and vertex texture fetch. But, it’s not like these things let a game do things that it couldn’t have done before – maybe it just helps the programmers do things more easily and maybe they run a little faster in the end.

I don’t think you’ll see a lot of games that “Feature Shader Model 3!!!” except as a sort of empty marketing hype. Whereas SM3 is a good thing from an engineer’s standpoint, from a deliverable-to-the-end-user standpoint there just isn’t much there.

FEAR will utilize SM3. All the stuff based on the Unreal Engine 3 will, too.

There’s not a single game coming out this year, and probably most of next, that will look any different with SM3 than with SM2. All it will do is run a little bit faster in SM3 mode (and sometimes not even).

SM3 is a whole lot of future proofing. Yes, you can definitely do cool stuff with SM3 you can’t do with SM2. But putting that much flow control in a shader, especially a long one that is going to run on like every pixel on the screen, would be dog slow on even a 6800 Ultra. Developers currently argue how useful it would be - having multiple shaders instead of a single branching shader may be more effecient.

The true “SM3 looks substantially better than SM2” games will require the horsepower of the next generation of graphics cards, and potentially even the generation after that.

Long story short: choose ATI or nVidia not based on having SM3 support, but for whatever other reasons are important to you.

Yeah that was exactly the point. ATI or Nvidia.

I think of getting me a X800 XL and having a decent 50+ framerate with AA and AF on I prefer ATI over Nvidia.

Far Cry has some SM3.0 code, but you won’t see much visual difference.

The key is in performance improvements, and planning ahead for future features (ie, when video cards actually have the power to run 6000 shader instructions).

I’m curious as to how you plan on actually purchasing said item, given that it appears to be nonexistent in the real world outside of models sent to hardware reviewers.

(Seriously – I’d like to buy one myself.)

Thats more or less a plan to buy it when its out there. :D