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An alleged screen capture of the ATI version of Rydermark (saved and reposted to preserve metadata)

An alleged screen capture of the NVIDIA version of Rydermark (saved and reposted to preserve metadata)

A difference map of the two images
"Rydermark developers" make bold claims which turn out to be nothing more than a Photoshop hoax

It would appear The Inquirer was quick to jump the gun on a story accusing NVIDIA of lying about full DirectX 9 support. The story accused NVIDIA of not allowing developers to use 24-bit or 32-bit shader precision. Instead it claims NVIDIA forces developers into using 16-bit shader precision as the technique is faster. This is a problem as DirectX 9 compliancy requires 24-bit shader precision or better.  "Rydermark" is not a commercially shipping application yet, and has had very little information published to confirm its authenticity.

The original story lacked any type of physical evidence and The Inquirer claimed its sources were developers for the program. Images allegedly proving that NVIDIA forces developers into using 16-bit shader precision were posted on The Inquirer. The posted images compared a rendered scene in Rydermark 2006 between ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards.

It turns out the images "proving" NVIDIA’s wrongdoings were nothing more than poorly done Photoshopped images.  The NVIDIA rendered image appeared to have blurrier water while the ATI rendered image had sharper water detail. However, the ATI rendered image just didn’t look right with poor cut offs and a creation date three minutes after the NVIDIA rendered image.  A difference image of the two JPG files can be seen to the right, with the outline of the modified  area clearly visible in the ATI image.  This would suggest the NVIDIA image was the original source image, and that the ATI version was modified afterwards.

A difference of the metadata from both images reveals that the NativeDigest delimiter is identical for both images, but has two different InstanceIDs.  This would be consistent with an image that was modified and saved twice.  In the author's defense, images that are created and saved on his computer have distinct metadata tags that are very easily identifiable.  These are not present in the two images supplied by The Inquirer for "Rydermark" -- suggesting the images may not have been modified by the author.

There’s been an outcry of The Inquirer images on various forums including Ace’s Hardware, AnandTech and Beyond3D.

Update 07/19/2006: The Inquirer has posted something resembling a rebuttal to this article. Incredibly, a user from the forums managed to track down some of the stock art used in the screen renders, and believes the entire image is actually fraudulent.

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Ad hominem...
By Justin Case on 7/19/2006 6:00:29 PM , Rating: -1
When I search for Rydermark on Google I get over 17 thousand pages, and they certainly don't all point to the Inquirer (the first ones do, because the Inquirer has a high PageRank, and that's the way Google works).

The similar timestamps on the same machine and the Photoshop metadata can be explained simply by the fact that both images were loaded into Photoshop and saved from there (ex., to convert from .BMP or .TGA to .JPG). Surely all you "experts" (hah!) posting here didn't think the image comparison was based on images with lossy compression, right...? The JPEG files are obviously not the original ones. So the JPEGs were saved from Photoshop, so what?

As to the transparency, artifacts, etc., all that can be caused by poor quality work on the original texture masks. Again, surely you don't think that photographs of water or buildings come with pre-made, absolutely perfect tiling edges and alpha channels, right? Someone had to make those masks. There's simply no way to distinguish a poorly drawn texture mask from a poorly drawn layer mask, unless you have multiple frames of the same animation.

Just because a benchmark was developed by someone with no Photoshop skills (or graphics skills in general), that doesn't mean the fundamental claim of the benchmark author is false.

And that is the real issue. Even if the benchmark is completely faked (and I'm not saying it is or isn't; there simply isn't enough information), that still doesn't prove that nVidia isn't using lower precision.

I've heard some comments from a few rather well-known people, suggesting that nVidia is indeed cutting some corners on image quality to improve frame rates. Wouldn't be the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. And ATI has done the same in the past.

Between the Inquirer (that actually does some investigation, doesn't sign NDAs, etc.) and AnandTech / DailyTech (that basically posts press releases, tests CPU rendering performance by running OpenGL viewport benchmarks, etc.), I have no doubts about who to trust. And neither does anyone who's actually been in this business for a few years. Anandtech used to be a great site, but that was four years ago, before they started liking money too much, and hiring igorant kids to write reviews (Anand's own articles are still pretty good, and Johan's are agreat, but the rest is just something to fill the space between the ads).

That doesn't mean I'm fully convinced by this benchmark (that looks to be in very early stages of development), but you have to wonder, when was the last time you saw a site publish an "article" simply trying to discredit another site, like DailyTech is trying to do now? Looks to me like they're just trying to get more ad hits.

If DailyTech really is interested in getting to the bottom of this, why not create a benchmark to test the precision of nVidia's shader pipeline? That would be useful (and real news, not just a press release reprint).

RE: Ad hominem...
By Wwhat on 7/19/2006 6:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
Uhm, dailytech is a news-blurps site, of course they don't do a test, that's what anad should be doing.
But of course the 16bit and 24bit and 32bit is no secret, the whole development and limits of both ATI and Nvidia is well known, they both have limitations and do things differently and strengths and weaknesses.

RE: Ad hominem...
By Justin Case on 7/19/2006 8:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
My definition of "news" is what sites like the Register or the Inquirer do (you know, investigate and report on something that is actually new, and that the corporations in question probably don't want the public to know).

DailyTech just propagates links from other sites, and posts press releases to fill the space between the ads. Sort of like american TV networks. To call DT a news site is to set the standard very low.

A news aggregator maybe. And, even then, one that seems to worry mainly about keeping its corporate sponsors happy.

RE: Ad hominem...
By Wwhat on 7/19/2006 10:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
That's why I added 'blurbs' (typoed it but that's obvious)

RE: Ad hominem...
By shadowzz on 7/20/2006 2:19:01 AM , Rating: 2
DailyTech just propagates links from other sites, and posts press releases to fill the space between the ads. Sort of like american TV networks.

Ah, as opposed to stories that are a mix of fraudulence mixed with incompetence. I'm the first to bash dailytech when they screw up, but you literally could not pay me to read the drivel on the inquirer. If it wasn't for Charlie (the only person of any real knowledge there. Yes Theo, Fuad and Mike. Please do Charlie a favor and quit), I probably would make sure the site redirected to something else in my localhost.

RE: Ad hominem...
By Knish on 7/20/2006 1:57:47 AM , Rating: 2

Just because a benchmark was developed by someone with no Photoshop skills (or graphics skills in general), that doesn't mean the fundamental claim of the benchmark author is false.

You're right, it doesnt. But it sure doesn't help his case when the sole piece of evidence he's been flaunting for weeks is a badly photoshopped jpg that looks like someone with arthritus made while wearing a blindfold. Praising the inq for doing such thorough investigating sure speaks volumes when it took 30 websites all of about 15 minutes to call this as fake.

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