Competitive benchers will soon need to start stockpiling DirectX 11 hardware if they want to keep up in the stats race, as the first details of Futuremark's next version of 3DMark have started to trickle through.
A leaked photo of an MSI presentation slide recently appeared on Plaza.fi, which outlined a few tidbits of information about the new benchmark. The story has been taken down now, but we grabbed a screenshot of the offending photo, which you can see below.
Although the slide primarily concerns MSI's exposure in the benchmark, it reveals that one of the tests will be an Undersea Submarine benchmark. The slide also reveals that a sneak preview of the benchmark will be shown at Computex next week.
Interestingly, it looks as though MSI has bought a virtual billboard on the submarine in the benchmark, in much the same way as Sapphire sponsored a speedboat in 3DMark Vantage. As a part of the deal, the slide says that there will be a "3DMark 11 full version bundle in Q3", which probably means that many MSI DX11 graphics cards will come with the complete version of the new benchmark.
According to UK tech site bit-tech, the benchmark will focus purely on DirectX 10 and 11. However, this is no particular surprise, given that 3DMark Vantage also required a DirectX 10 GPU and a copy of Windows Vista to run.
Futuremark has previously hinted that some of the DirectX 11 tests will look seriously tasty. In an interview with CVG in March, Futuremark's CEO, Jukka Mäkinen, said that "our 3DMark team is working on some seriously awesome DX11 stuff."
No further details have been revealed about what's in the benchmark, but bit-tech's sources say that Futuremark plans to officially announce the benchmark on 26 May, with the full release coming later in September this year.
Although 3DMark is still a popular benchmark with overclockers and benchmarkers, the series has gained a reputation as a synthetic benchmark that's not always representative of real-world gaming.
While older versions up to 3DMark 2001 were based on the Max Payne engine, and therefore at least representative a real game engine, newer versions have been based on Futuremark's own engines, which are designed to simulate the features that should be found in future games.
However, now that Futuremark has its own games studio, producing games such as Shattered Horizon, it's quite possible that 3DMark may start to be taken as little more seriously again.
It will also be interesting to see what the benchmark includes with regards to hardware-accelerated physics. Its predecessor, 3DMark Vantage included a PhysX test, but this caused some upset when Nvidia bought Ageia, because it gave Nvidia cards an immediate, and somewhat skewed, advantage over the competition.
It may be that Futuremark has dropped the idea of a physics test from this benchmark, but it may have also worked on an OpenCL-based physics implementation that can work on both Nvidia and ATI cards.
Either way, you can be guaranteed that the benchmark will grind the current generation of DirectX 10 and 11 hardware into the ground.