Monday, May 07, 2007

Vista: Slower at 3D games

The review site "Hardocp" compared the average frame rates of several popular games, including Microsoft's very own "Flight Simulator" and found that Vista is noticeably slower.

Let's see the results for two popular video cards:
8800GTS results
7600GT results

One of the phony reasons Microsoft has given to the public for the transition to Vista is supposed to be better gaming experience. This claims have support because Vista supposedly provides services of interest for game developers. If so, it is to be expected that with the very low adoption rate of the operating system games still haven't been designed to exploit those benefits. But this doesn't explain why old games run slower.

Vista deals with video in a very different way to its predecessors, Microsoft insisted that the new "Windows Display Driver Model" was so different that DirectX 10 couldn't be backported to XP nor predecessors, but still, since the gaming segment is of great importance for Microsoft, and Microsoft has always cared about backward compatibility a very great deal, it could be expected that games for DirectX versions older than 9L would behave like they have always done; but this doesn't seem to be the case.

Why? I think the reason can be found in Peter Gutmann's "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection": The DRM-infected Vista device drivers must distrust the user, the other hardware devices and the software running in the computer to protect Microsoft's interests (claim explained here), and this obviously taxes performance. But of course, I am dismissing a plausible explanation that DirectX < 9L runs emulated for WDDM devices, because I think WDDM's potential technical benefits are just an excuse to force the device drivers DRM infection.

I may be wrong, but I get the impression that AMD (ATI, that is) has been cheerleading Vista much more than nVidia. This is off-topic, but I am concerned about AMD's management attitude towards Vista, for instance how they keep insisting that adoption will provide momentum for the industry. It makes me wonder if their policy decisions are based on this, like introducing 65nm product first for desktops, where its only attractive point of better power efficiency is relatively irrelevant compared to Laptops perhaps anticipating a spike in desktop demand due to Vista. I also wonder if AMD's management understands who used to be their custormers: Gamers, for instance, that wanted freedom, choice, the greatest bang for the buck and when K8 was the king of the jungle, performance leadership. Vista provides exactly the opposite: DRM infection, restriction in drivers and hardware, expensive proprietary bloatware; and performance retardation.


Anonymous said...

"I may be wrong, but I get the impression that AMD (ATI, that is) has been cheerleading Vista much more than nVidia. "

You know why, right? AMD will need Microsoft if/when they try to pull of fusion - might as well try to get in bed now...

It is obvious that AMD will not be able to compete with Intel in the current CPU market environment - the only way for them to succeed is to create a new market (I think fusion is a first attempt at this). However in order to do this AMD will need MAJOR support from SW (read - Microsoft)

Eddie said...

AMD does not need Microsoft's support for anything related to Fusion.

On the other hand, even assuming that Fusion needs MS support, it is still a bad idea to "get in bed" with MS because MS only does things in its best interest.

See what happened with AMD64: Suse became successful, that forced MS to embrace it, released 2003 x64 and XP x64, forced Intel to take Yamhill out of the closet (later renamed EM64T) and by that time, the Linux threat had receded, thus the AMD64 architecture was abandoned. But still AMD didn't try to make AMD64 relevant in the Linux businesses waiting for MS to improve support, that never happened. Now, even Vista is a 32 bit with the x64 version for a few freaks who want to deal with the hassles of drivers and other glitches