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Futuremark officially announces 3DMark 11

Following an accidental leak last week, Futuremark has now officially announced 3DMark 11, and provided a tech demo to show off the new engine's features.

The move follows last week's leak (opens in new tab), where a photo of an MSI presentation slide revealed a smattering of information about an undersea benchmark featuring an MSI-branded submarine. However, Futuremark has now confirmed a few of the details, and also revealed what the undersea benchmark will specifically test.

Let's start with the facts. According to Futuremark, 3DMark 11 will be released in the third quarter of 2010, and it will support both Windows 7 and Vista. However, in much the same way that 3DMark Vantage required a DirectX 10 GPU, 3DMark11 will also require a DirectX 11 GPU.

Futuremark says that the DirectX 11 engine was developed in-house by Futuremark, and also says that it has no plans to introduce any of the DirectX 11 features to its DirectX 10 game, Shattered Horizon. The software developer points out that the game studio and benchmark team are "separate parts of the business, each with their own teams."

As with previous versions of 3DMark, a number of versions will be available at various costs. These costs haven't yet been finalised, but Futuremark says that there will definitely be a free edition that can be run an unlimited number of times. This, says Futuremark, was made possible thanks to sponsorship such as the MSI brand seen on the submarine in the tech demo.

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3DMark 11 features an MSI-sponsored submersible, and shows off volumetric lighting

As many predicted, Futuremark says it plans to demo the benchmark at the Computex tradeshow next month. However, the only demo on show will be a tech demo of the Deep Sea test, which uses an early development build of the benchmark's engine. This is apparently just a demo of the engine, rather than the finished version of the test, and no 3DMark score will be generated.

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Nevertheless, this tech demo on its own can showcase a number of DirectX 11 features, including tessellation, volumetric lighting, depth of field and even the Compute Shader.

Futuremark has issued a number of screenshots to show these features in action. For a start, tessellation can be seen in the rocks and coral, with intricate detail that would have previously required ridiculous amounts of geometry.

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The detailed rocks and coral shows tessellation in action

Meanwhile, the depth-of-field effects can be seen when the view goes beneath a rusty wreck, with parts of the wreck coming into clear focus as you get closer.

Futuremark says that the demo shows off the bokeh effect (opens in new tab), a photography term that describes the "aesthetic quality of the blurring in out-of-focus areas of an image, often most noticeable around small lights, highlights and reflections that fall outside the depth of field."

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Futuremark says that the demo shows off the bokeh effect

The volumetric lighting effects can be seen in the first screenshot on the first page, where the light emanating from the submarine's bright lamps can be seen through the water. Futuremark says that the engine also takes advantage of deferred rendering to enable a number of lights in a scene without pummelling the frame rate.

Finally, the use of DirectX 11's Compute Shader can be seen in some of the post-processing effects, such as lens flare and bloom. "Although these effects would be possible using traditional shaders," says Futuremark, "the increased flexibility of compute shaders can lead to greater efficiency, quality and speed."

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Post-processing effects such as bloom are processed with DirectX 11's Compute Shader

Futuremark hasn't revealed any information about the other tests in the benchmark, but it has also added that the benchmark will be optimised for multi-threaded CPUs as well as the latest GPUs. You can see the Deep Sea tech demo for yourself here (opens in new tab). monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.