Gaming Load times: Can one make of video card load games faster?

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by ECH, Feb 14, 2010.

  1. ECH

    ECH
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    I've come across a few threads saying that nvidia's video cards loads games faster then ATI. I'm not sure if this is just pure fud so I ask if some of you out there can look into this.

    In particular I am talking about loading multiplayer maps for online play. Games like COD4, COD:WAW, BC2 and MW2 to name a few. A select few seem to swear that a nvidia video card will load the map much faster then using an ATI video card. Which allows them to get into the map first giving them a fruitless advantage.

    So I ask if there is any truth to this? If so, is there GPU activity from the nvidia card while the game is loading (for example)? Honestly, I take no stock into this however, I've seen enough of the claims being made to warrant discussion of it. If someone would be kind enough to do a comparison (having both ATI and Nvidia video cards) it would be very welcomed and warranted addition to the discussion.

    Example thread 1
    Example thread 2
     
  2. repi

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    Nvidia's drivers are generally much faster at loading shaders (i.e. driver translation/compilation/optimization) than ATI's drivers. Esp. in DX10/DX11 in my experience.
     
  3. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    I don't know if Nvidia cards load faster, but I'd suggest you'd get more advantage from a RAID or SDD. Many games/servers also have a minimum load time to take away this kind of loading advantage eg, everyone gets 30 secs to load the game maps before the game proper starts.
     
  4. ECH

    ECH
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    DX11? :smile:
    It's the drivers that does this?



    I think what's being conveyed is that the PC setup is the same when those claims are made.
     
  5. Davros

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    ut has a precache setting
    turning it on results in longer load times but then the game doesnt have to upload textures during the game
     
  6. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Yeah, of course... Since there's no standard architecture for shader processors (like with x86 CPUs for example) the shader code's got to be compiled at runtime. So it's the video drivers that need to take care of this job, since only they can know the exact specifics of the target architecture...
     
  7. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    Might very well be, but a lot of games and servers are set to take away that kind of "level loading" advantage by making everyone wait (within reason) for everyone else to load the level, regardless of how fast your hardware is, before the game proper is started.
     
  8. Davros

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    cant they be pre compiled ?
     
  9. entity279

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    Guess not. There are too many ISAs to cover.
     
  10. eastmen

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    Interesting. Normaly my system is first in on everything

    Q9550 at 4.2ghz
    8 gigs of ddr 2 1000
    radeon 4850 1 gig
    ocz vertex 60 gig os install with apps
    Game drive is an older 640 gig drive.

    I load up faster than anyone else . I'm allways waiting for people in multiplayer games I'm playing
     
  11. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    I suppose they could be compiled and then cached by the driver for next time they might be used, but pre-compiling it isn't possible. Like mentioned before, there's too many ISAs to cover (they differ between all GPU manufacturers, and even between family to family from each manufacturer).

    Add to this, each ISA is essentially a relatively closely guarded secret (except hasn't Nvidia opensourced its Linux driver fairly recently?), so you couldn't pre-compile for an ISA you don't know anything about anyway. :)
     
  12. Silent_Buddha

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    Some games do that. The first time you run the game it'll compile all the shaders, and then after that it loads it from HDD cache.

    I know Vanguard did this, I remember one of the Battlefield games started doing this a few years ago also.

    Regards,
    SB
     
    #12 Silent_Buddha, Feb 16, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2010
  13. vazel

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    So this explains why on some mp games I'm one of the last to load. I have an ati 4850. Is this shader compiling done on the GPU or is it done on CPU? Would a faster CPU negate this driver inefficiency?
     
    #13 vazel, Feb 16, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2010
  14. ECH

    ECH
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    I can only assume that it's the CPU and drivers that does this not the GPU.
     
  15. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    That would probably be an unsubstantiated assumption. There could be any number of reasons why you're having slow loadtimes, including filesystem fragmentation and background apps eating up your RAM, forcing harddrive paging when the game tries to load its levels, and so on.
     
  16. ECH

    ECH
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    I've heard something that sounds a little silly but what the heck right? From what I've read if you compress cache folders for certain game that could decrease load times. All you do is right click on the cache folder, click on properties and click on the Advance button. Then select compress contents to save disk space and hit the apply button. Once you do that you are asked if you want to compress just that folder or all sub folders.

    I've tried it and to my surprise it didn't slow the load times down at all. That's the best I can say right now. Finding those cache folders for BF2, Dirt 2, etc were a tad more difficult then it should be because searching "cache" didn't find them all. Sometimes it's in the "my documents"/user sub folders. Other times it's some where in the game folder itself.
     
  17. Davros

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    how much ram you got ech
    Ive only got 4gb (3 cos of xp32) but I made a 1gb ram drive can copied unreal to it loading was instant
     
  18. ECH

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    Just 4 Gigs.
     
  19. Davros

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    I know some boards support 16gb cod4 takes up 6gb so you could run that from a ramdrive
     
  20. Humus

    Humus Crazy coder
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    Yep. Shader loading on ATI cards take a lot longer than on Nvidia cards. This is a very real problem which I think ATI needs to address. In Just Cause 2 you'll probably see maybe 2 seconds load time from startup screen to frontend menu if you're using an Nvidia card, whereas the same takes maybe 10 seconds if you're on an ATI card. The difference is all about shader loading time.

    HLSL to D3D asm can be precompiled, but the optimization step is done by the driver at runtime. A driver could opt to cache already optimized shaders though, but I don't think anyone does.
     
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