Every single time 3dfx releases new drivers, we ask the guys over there if the new drivers offer any performance improvement since we do quick and dirty benchmark comparisons for our readers. Usually the answer is no, so we skip the tests and play Counter-Strike instead. This time, however, 3dfx's Bubba Wolford told us that the new drivers are worth a look.
Here's a list of what's new in this driver release:
Added Depth Precision 16/32bpp to 3dfx Tools Advanced Feature Page to OpenGL/Glide
Added AA Demo Key to 3dfx Tools Anti-Aliasing Page
Added Geometry Assist to 3dfx Tools Advanced Feature Page
Performance improvements on AMD K7 and Intel Pentium II/III processors
OpenGL Improvements for Quake 3 performance on Celeron, Pentium Pro, Pentium II's, and Pentium MMX and Non-MMX
Various game fixes
According to Bubba, Depth Precision 16/32bpp is a performance optimization in OpenGL, and the AGP Command FIFO allows one to switch between different AGP modes. The AA Hotkey allows you to toggle AA on and off for demonstration purposes, but note that performance will take the AA hit even while toggled off.
The Intel and AMD optimizations grabbed our attention first, but then we caught sight of the Geometry Assist feature. Bubba had this to say: "We included some "Geometry Assist" (GA) coding for increased pathways for KNI and 3DNow! support. Both the hardware and driver are responsible for the increased speed found in our Geometry Assist."
Sounds good! Let's check out the numbers.