Technology as a way of life

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser...

Since i talked about the new drivers made for Windows 7 in the previous post, let me point out the main feature of it which is the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM v1.1). Vista and XP used version 1.0 of the driver.

What's the big difference you ask from such a small revision number? Answer: A LOT!

So what do you get with WDDM 1.1? For starters, the DWM (Desktop Window Manager) will use DirectX 10 instead of 9 and offer some nice performance enhancements. DWM will now use the same consistent amount of system memory no matter how many windows are open. Your graphics card memory usage will still increase as you open more windows, but that amount of memory is cut in half relative to Vista.

The end result is that Windows 7 will use dramatically less memory as you open additional windows on your desktop. It should also be faster and more efficient at rendering the desktop.

Windows 7 will introduce Direct2D, a sort of accelerated 2D replacement for GDI used for drawing 2D graphics, lines, splines, etc. It runs on top of Direct3D 10 and requires WDDM 1.1 drivers. This has been long awaited, and future applications should see snappier windows performance in standard applications, not just 3D apps.

DirectX 10 games should see a performance improvement with WDDM 1.1 drivers, mostly centered around memory management. It's still far too early for Microsoft to share any sort of numbers, but it seems to suggest that the performance difference will vary by title.

Don't you hate it when a media application uses the video overlay function of your video card in Vista, and there's this annoying screen flash as you lose the Aero glass interface? Then there's another flash as Aero is restored when you shut the program down. With Windows 7 and WDDM 1.1 drivers, that shouldn't happen anymore.

If you use a projector that has a 4:3 aspect ratio with a laptop or desktop PC with a widescreen monitor, you probably feel some frustration about scaling problems. WDDM 1.1 drivers will enable some new scaling modes, making your widescreen display show the same aspect ratio as your projector.

If you have WDDM 1.0 driver, the desktop will still display Aero, running on what Microsoft is calling "10 level 9." This uses the same DirectX 10 calls for the DWM to render the desktop, but translated to a subset of those functions and send to the DX9 drivers of these older cards. Don't expect game developers or anyone to really use these functions—it's simply a desktop rendering solution Microsoft has come up with to support older hardware.

The good news is, pretty much all DX10 capable graphics cards and integrated graphics chipsets should have WDDM 1.1 drivers, and with a year (or so) to go before Windows 7 hits the market, those cards should be commonplace

(source: ExtremeTech)


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