When we first saw product page for the Marseille mCable Gaming Edition, a wave of skepticism waved across the PC Perspective offices. Initially, an HDMI cable that claims to improve image quality while gaming sounds like the snake oil that "audiophile" companies like AudioQuest have been peddling for years.
However, looking into some of the more technical details offered by Marseille, their claims seemed to be more and more likely. By using a signal processor embedded inside the HDMI connector itself, Marseille appears to be manipulating the video signal to improve quality in ways applicable to gaming. Specifically, their claim of Anti-Aliasing on all video signals has us interested.
So for curiosities sake, we ordered the $150 mCable Gaming Edition and started to do some experimentation.
Even from the initial unboxing, there are some unique aspects to the mCable. First, you might notice that the connectors are labeled with "Source" and "TV." Since the mCable has a signal processor in it, this distinction which is normally meaningless starts to matter a great deal.
Similarly, on the "TV" side, there is a USB cable used to power the signal processing chip. Marseille claims that most modern TV's with USB connections will be able to power the mCable.
While a lot of Marseilles marketing materials are based on upgrading the visual fidelity of console games that don't have adjustable image quality settings, we decided to place our aim on a market segment we are intimately familiar with—PC Gaming. Since we could selectively turn off Anti-Aliasing in a given game, and PC games usually implement several types of AA, it seemed like the most interesting testing methodology.
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2012 - 03:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, max payne 3, fxaa, msaa, ssao, hdao
Techgage recently took a look at the effect enabling tesselation and antialiasing has on the visual quality of Max Payne 3. Visually the Phong Tesselation seems to only have an effect on close visuals of faces, as well as adding some volume to clothing. FXAA and 4xMSAA had more effect, with FXAA not only offering smoother visuals but also having almost no effect whatsoever on frame rates. They also took a look at SSAO and HDAO but for that you'd need to download their large screenshot to be able to tell them apart and ended by delving into the performance. Check it out here.
"With Max Payne 3 reviewed, how about we take a look at the game from a technical perspective? Wondering what the game brings to the tessellation table? How FXAA compares to MSAA? Whether HDAO is really worth the performance hit? We tackle all these questions and more, so read on."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Max Payne 3 PC Review @ eTeknix
- Game of Thrones @ HardwareHeaven
- Peasant Surprise: Civilization V: Gods & Kings Factions @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Spacebiff! Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion Launches @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gratuitous Tank Battles Demo Rolls Into View @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Sorcery (PlayStation Move) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 12:38 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: unreal, udk, samaritan, nvidia, fxaa
Last year we saw Unreal unviel their Samaritan demo which showed off next generation gaming graphics using three NVIDIA 580 GTX graphics cards in SLI. Epic games showed off realistic hair and cloth physics along with improved lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and more bokeh effects than gamers could shake a controller at with their Samaritan demo, and I have to say it was pretty impressive stuff a year ago, and it still is today. What makes this round special is that hardware has advanced such that the Samaritan level graphics can be achieved in real time with a single graphics card, a big leap from last year's required three SLI'd NVIDIA GTX 580s!
The Samaritan demo was shown at this years' GDC 2012 (Games Developers Conference) to be running on a single NVIDIA "Kepler" graphics card in real time, which is pretty exciting. Epic did not state any further details on the upcoming NVIDIA graphics card; however, the knowledge that the single GPU was able to pull off what it took three Fermi cards to do certainly holds promise.
According to GeForce; however, it was not merely the NVIDIA Kepler GPU that made the Samaritan demo on a single GPU possible. The article states that it was the inclusion of NVIDIA's method for anti-aliasing known as FXAA, or Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing that enabled it. Unlike the popular MSAA option employed by (many of) today's games, FXAA uses much less memory, enabling single graphics cards to avoid being bogged down by memory thrashing. They further state that the reason MSAA is not ideal for the Samaritan demo is because the demo uses deferred shading to provide the "complex, realistic lighting effects that would be otherwise impossible using forward rendering," a method employed by many game engines. The downside to the arguably better lighting in the Samaritan demo is that it requires four times as much memory. This is because the GPU RAM needs to hold four samples per pixel, and the workload is magnified four times in areas of the game where there are multiple intersecting pieces of geometry.
FXAA vs MSAA
They go on to state that without AA turned on, the lighting in the Samaritan demo uses approximately 120 MB of GPU RAM, and with 4x MSAA turned on it uses about 500 MB. That's 500 MB of memory dedicated just to lighting when it could be used to hold more of the level and physics, for example and would require a GPU to swap more data that it should have to (using FXAA). They state that FXAA on the other hand, is a shader based AA method that does not require additional memory, making it "much more performance friendly for deferred renderers such as Samaritan."
Without anti-aliasing, the game world would look much more jagged and not realistic. AA seeks to smooth out the jagged edges, and FXAA enabled Epic to run their Samaritan demo on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card. Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I'm excited to see game developers roll some of the Samaritan graphical effects into their games. Knowing that Epic Game's engine can be run on a single graphics card implies that this future is all that much closer. More information is available here, and if you have not already seen it the Samaritan demo is shown in the video below.