The news coming out of Game Developers Conference today is that an eagerly awaited NVIDIA Kepler GFX card, believed to be built on the 28nm process, finally had its first public appearance. Furthermore the appearance wasn't a low-end tech demo with a mobile Kepler SKU, rather it was a discrete graphics solution running Samaritan.
Samaritan is Epic Games' tech demo of their future-generation Unreal Engine 3, a very high fidelity game engine which Epic plans to roll out when the hardware has advanced to the point where it is feasible. At GDC 2011 Epic were able to show Samaritan, rendered real-time, for the first time using three GTX 580's - the fastest GPU available at the time.
Fastfoward to today:
Today GDC 2012 is upon us, and once again Epic has shown the Samaritan demo, but this time with a twist - instead of three GeForce GTX 580s, the demo was shown running on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card.
The implied performance bump for Kepler therefore is huge, but it should be noted that the GTX 580's were actually performing higher workload than the Kepler part. The Samaritan demo calls for 4x Multisample Anti-Aliasing, a process which is expensive both computationally and in Graphics memory terms. Kepler eschewed MSAA in favour of Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing (FXAA), an NVIDIA-developed method of performing Anti-Aliasing which sidesteps the increased memory footprint of MSAA at the shader level and has been present in FXAA 1 and 2 forms up-to the GTX 580.
NVIDIA claim that FXAA 3 also generates significantly better anti-aliasing results and hence better image quality than 4xMSAA. It isn't clear if FXAA 3 was the exact schema being utilised during the demo run.
More information is expected in the next week or so as NVIDIA ramp-up to a rumoured unveiling of Kepler on the 12th of this month.