Heaven 2.0 benchmark shown at GDC

GDC 2010 Unigine’s new baby is more complex

Unigine logoONE OF THE most studied benchmarks of the DX11 era is Heaven from Unigine. At GDC, it was showing off version 2.0 of the benchmark with more assets and features.

Unigine blimp

Lots of changes

The short story is that Heaven 2.0 is more of the same, with many of the lessons learned from 1.0 and early DX11 hardware rolled in. It has more scenes, more art assets, and a lot more tessellation. The idea was to look forward to both near future and ‘next generation’ cards. One way to do that is to put in a new ‘extreme’ mode, since that usually buys a benchmark a card generation or two.

Heaven 2.0 rebalanced a lot of the scenes, but since it is meant to be a pure GPU benchmark, that doesn’t mean more CPU use, just differently exercised GPU functions. It will be interesting to compare how 1.0 and 2.0 scale across both ATI and Nvidia hardware. 1.0 scales really well on Nvidia hardware, but that performance does not translate into real world gaming performance, a typical weak point with synthetic benchmarks.

With luck, Heaven 2.0 ‘rebalancing’ will move it more toward real world gaming loads rather than trying to show peak hardware capabilities that are not reflective of performance if anything else is running on the card. The debate as to what is going on and why will undoubtedly rage for a long time.

Until Heaven 2.0 comes out in about a month, that debate will not be much more than speculation. There will be versions for Linux and Windows, but the Linux version might not have tessellation immediately. From the looks of things, Unigine is doing a good job.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate