Nvidia says AMD unfairly adjusted Catalyst drivers for perfo

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Old 15-Jan-2011
Nvidia says AMD unfairly adjusted Catalyst drivers for perfo

Nvidia has posted on its blog over the weekend accusing AMD of attempting to look better in performance tests by unfairly tweaking its Catalyst driver settings.
The issue is one of image quality. A game will always perform better if the image quality is lower, so there are default settings for image quality such as Quality, High, or Very High. What Nvidia believes AMD has done is to adjust the image quality for the Quality setting so that it is lower. That means the same test on a Nvidia card at the same settings will always show a performance disadvantage over a rival ATI card.
Nvidia believe the adjustment AMD made allows for a 10% performance advantage. But what AMD isn’t telling anyone is the image quality has been noticeably decreased to achieve that gain. In fact, for a fair comparison image quality needs to be set to High for an AMD’s graphics cards.
The claim is backed up by references to these findings on websites including ComputerBase, PC Games Hardware, 3DCenter.org, and TweakPC.

Nvidia is quick to point out they fell into this trap back in the days of the GeForce FX and 3DMark 03. But that since then there has been an agreement that optimizations are only allowed if image quality is not affected. Anything else is cheating:
the industry agreed that any optimization that improved performance, but did not alter IQ, was in fact a valid “optimization”, and any optimization that improved performance but lowered IQ, without letting the user know, was a “cheat”. Special-casing of testing tools should also be considered a “cheat”.
Technical Marketing Director Nick Stam, who wrote the Nvidia blog post, makes it clear Nvidia see this as compromising to gain an advantage:
AMD promotes “no compromise” enthusiast graphics, but it seems multiple reviewers beg to differ. We have had internal discussions as to whether we should forego our position to not reduce image quality behind your back as AMD is doing. We believe our customers would rather we focus our resources to maximize performance and provide an awesome, immersive gaming experience without compromising image quality, than engage in a race to the IQ gutter with AMD.

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