While Direct3D 10 Level 9 software will allow users to run Direct3D 10 applications on Direct3D 9 hardware with equal visual quality, it will still result in some decreased performance. The WARP10 will enable users to effectively utilize the new Intel Core i7 CPUs, providing performance equal to that of a native Direct3D 10-level graphics processor. This platform is, in essence, a complete software implementation of Direct3D 10, being additionally capable of anti-aliasing up to 8xMSAA and anisotropic filtering – using nothing but the CPU. Experts say this approach boosts graphics performance, especially when using programs that involve 3D CAD design work, debugging 3D applications, running medical applications or playing First-Person Shooter (FPS) games.
Microsoft recommends lowering the quality settings and resolution as much as possible to achieve usable frame rates when using WARP10 on applications originally built to run on Direct3D 10 hardware, adding that if developers are aware of the capabilities and performance of WARP10, it’s possible to develop and tune applications that should run “extremely well” on both hardware and software. According to the company, WARP10 achieves best results on modern quad core CPUs and runs significantly faster on machines with SSE4.1 extensions – the company has tested the device on machines with eight or more cores and SSE4.1, saying “we believe these high end machines will be more and more common during the lifetime of Windows 7.”
Some have criticized Microsoft, saying that the published benchmark results of WARP10 appear to be considerably weak when no graphics hardware is present, and that the component is clearly not fit for gamers. Microsoft has responded to the criticism, stating that the additional overhead is unavoidable, since performing originally inherent graphics card operations such as texture filtering, format decompression or conversions on a typical CPU is expensive in terms of both power consumption and performance cost in cycles. The company acknowledges that low end discrete graphics hardware is still typically 4-5 times faster than WARP10 at running the benchmarks, but also points out that “the typical performance numbers we are seeing on an Intel Penryn based 3.0GHz Quad Core machine show that WARP10 can in some cases even outperform low end integrated Direct3D 10 graphics GPU’s on a number of benchmarks!”.
TFOT has previously covered a number of innovative gaming technologies, such as COGAIN, which allows people with severe motor disabilities to play 3D computer games using only their eyes. You can also check out our coverage of “Pandora” – a device which combines ultra mobile personal computer (UMPC) and a full portable gaming console.