DirectX 12 was recently updated with Variable-Rate Shading (VRS), giving developers the ability to improve performance by reducing the level of details in parts of a frame where you are unlikely to notice an impact on image quality. Not many games have implemented this technology just yet but to see how much of a performance boost you can expect with it on, 3DMark has updated its benchmark suite with a VRS test.
The shading rate is the number of pixel shader operations called for each pixel. Higher shading rates are taxing on the GPU but create a more detailed image, while lower shading rates improve performance but lack in visual fidelity. Much like variable refresh rate on monitors, variable rate shading allows the rate to be dynamically adjusted based on GPU performance.
This new benchmark is part of 3DMark’s feature tests, which are designed to highlight specific technologies. With 3DMark VRS, the test is designed to help compare differences in performance and image quality with the feature on versus off. The first phase of the benchmark runs with VRS off and the second phase runs with it on.
Variable-Rate Shading is only supported on some GPUs at this point in time, with Nvidia’s Turing GPUs being the prime point of call for now. Although Intel Ice Lake CPUs have an iGPU also capable of VRS.
If you own 3DMark Advanced Edition, then you should have an update with the VRS feature test now. 3DMark is also on sale for 75% off until the 2nd of September if any of you are interested in putting your rig through its paces.
KitGuru Says: Variable-rate shading is a similar idea to foveated rendering, reducing image quality in parts of the image that you aren’t likely to focus on in an effort to boost overall performance. Not many games have implemented it yet but we’ll likely start to see more implementations of this tech in the months to come.