Futuremark Publishes Guidelines for Driver Optimizations

September 23, 2003

Enabling Hardware Reviewers to Make Objective Performance Comparisons

Saratoga, California USA – September 23, 2003 – Futuremark Corporation, the leading provider of PC performance analysis software and services, today announced specific guidelines for graphics driver optimizations that yield a valid 3DMark performance reading. Some driver optimizations manipulate benchmark tests, causing results that are not comparable to those of other hardware and are thus deemed unsuitable for 3DMark usage.

Drivers are an integral part of computers’ display cards. They are programs that translate computer applications’ instructions to the display card. Driver optimization is a rapidly evolving practice by display card manufacturers to improve their products’ performance over time. Being the leading publisher of benchmark products, Futuremark has supported and continues to support the development of generic optimizations, which result in tangible benefits to all applications. When properly implemented, driver optimizations translate application instructions to the hardware in an optimal manner, without reducing or discarding any information.

In contrast to generic optimizations, application specific driver optimizations enhance performance in one specific program only. The performance enhancement may be done by discarding or replacing instructions, data or calculations. While this practice may be acceptable for games, it does not result in any benefit for a benchmark like 3DMark, but rather manipulates benchmark tests. Futuremark deems thus all 3DMark specific driver optimizations unacceptable.

In order to clarify its stance on driver optimizations and to help those companies who wish to have their products benchmarked with its industry standard 3DMark benchmark, Futuremark hereby publishes the following set of guidelines for creating drivers.

  1. It is prohibited to change the rendering quality level that is requested by 3DMark.
  2. It is prohibited to detect 3DMark directly or indirectly. In its sole discretion, Futuremark may approve detection in order to fix a specified hardware error.
  3. Optimizations that utilize the empirical data of 3DMark are prohibited.
  4. Generic optimizations that do not violate the above rules and benefit applications in general are acceptable only if the rendering is mathematically consistent with that of Microsoft® DirectX® reference rasterizer.

As a summary, all 3DMark specific optimizations are prohibited. Additionally, all generic optimizations that change the rendering quality requested by 3DMark are prohibited.

According to Tero Sarkkinen, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Futuremark Corporation, “Development of a truly impartial benchmark needs the input of all major players. We have spent the last few months talking with all the key hardware manufacturers and these common set of rules are the end result of this process. We will cooperate with all major graphics vendors to enforce the guidelines as quickly as possible.”

Pricing and Availability

3DMark03 is available for free public download at http://www.futuremark.com/download/?3dmark03.shtml. For further 3DMark03 related information, please visit http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/. A professional version with added features and full functionality is available from http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/ for $19.95 for individual or $250.00 for corporate license.

Note to Editors

For your free evaluation copy of 3DMark03, please email marketing@futuremark.com and tell us the publication that you represent.

About Futuremark® Corporation

Futuremark® Corporation, formerly known as MadOnion.com™, is the leading provider of computer performance analysis software and services. Futuremark® is known around the world for its benchmark products, including the 3DMark® Series and PCMark™2002 (with more than 30 million copies distributed worldwide) and value-added services powered by a database of over 10 million real life benchmarking results. Futuremark® has offices in Saratoga, California and Helsinki, Finland. For more information, please visit http://www.futuremark.com.

© 2003 Futuremark® Corporation. 3DMark® and PCMark™ trademarks and logos, Futuremark® character names and distinctive likenesses, are the exclusive property of Futuremark Corporation. DirectX® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are property of their respective companies.