[Test] OpenGL Geometry Instancing: GeForce GTX 480 vs Radeon HD 5870


OpenGL Geometry Instancing: GTX 480 vs HD 5870
Asteroid belt and Geometry Instancing: up to 180 millions polygons rendered in real time – Click to zoom

Article Index

1 – Introduction

I took the time for updating the OpenGL Geometry Instancing demo pack updated I released more than 2 years ago on my infamous lab. The first version of the demo pack
has been developed and tested with a GeForce 8800 GTX and a Radeon HD 3870 and only the 8800 GTX had the HW GI (HardWare Geometry Instancing) support that why the demos didn’t start if the card was not a 8800 GTX…

Today, all recent NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards support the HW GI so a serious update of the pack was necessary. It’s done. And of course it’s not a simple recompilation with the 8800 GTX test in less, the demos have been updated with many more polygons and a new GI technique based on uniform buffer. And this time, all GI techniques work with GeForce and Radeon. Thanks to NV and ATI drivers teams!


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  • It would be interesting to see how the test behave with different instancing methods: instanced array, texture buffer, etc. Also 1800 triangles isn’t so much for the maximum.

  • Nice work anyway!

  • Thanks Mr Groove!
    I’ll update this demopack with new techniques next time (at least with instanced array). And I’ll increase the number of polygons per instance 😉

  • FWIW, note that with more triangles, you’ll be hitting harder the triangle setup bottleneck of one triangle per clock cycle. Don’t know for the NVidia GTX 480, but this limit applies for the ATI R5xxx ; I don’t think that going beyond 180M triangles will bring you anything good for this generation of boards.

    Nice summary of instanciation techniques and perfs though. Did you try to have finer grained timings with ARB_timer_query extension ?


  • Mars_999

    Yes keep these demo and tutorials coming. I enjoy reading them as it keeps me up to date on the newest features I can do with OpenGL. Plus it’s nice to see the old vs. new method of doing the same thing so once can make his own decision on what to do.

    Thanks!!! keep up the good work!

  • WacKEDmaN

    20,000 instances x 18 tri/instance = 360,000 tri
    Geforce GTX 470@ 700 core /1800 mem
    – F2: FPS=18, GPU=20%, CPU=30%
    – F3: FPS=40, GPU=21%, CPU=35%
    – F4: FPS=68, GPU=15%, CPU=35%
    – F5: FPS=96, GPU=19%, CPU=35%
    – F6: FPS=101, GPU=24%, CPU=30%

    100,000 instances, 1800 tri/instance = 180,000,000 tri
    Geforce GTX 470@ 700 core /1800 mem
    – F2: FPS=4, GPU=67%, CPU=30%
    – F3: FPS=6, GPU=99%, CPU=24%
    – F4: FPS=6, GPU=99%, CPU=14%
    – F5: FPS=6, GPU=99%, CPU=12%
    – F6: FPS=6, GPU=99%, CPU=10%

    interesting…CPU usage goes down as GPU goes up..i thought the cpu would be less stressed with the lower geometry count…

  • I tested with a Radeon HD 2400, Catalyst 10.6.
    The F6 technique half-failed: the asteroids are there, rotating, but all shading on them is turned off (all black). But the middle planet is shaded.
    I suppose this was not intended.
    The driver exposes all the 3 required extensions.


    20,000 instances x 18 tri/instance = 360,000 tri
    ATI HD4770 @ 940 core / 4800 mem
    – F2: FPS=44, GPU=50%, CPU=28%
    – F3: FPS=57, GPU=58%, CPU=30%
    – F4: FPS=54, GPU=40%, CPU=30%
    – F5: FPS=140, GPU=42%, CPU=34%
    – F6: FPS=152, GPU=34%, CPU=30% (no shadinng)

    100,000 instances, 1800 tri/instance = 180,000,000 tri
    ATI HD4770 @ 940 core / 4800 mem
    – F2: FPS=5, GPU=99%, CPU=18%
    – F3: FPS=5, GPU=99%, CPU=16%
    – F4: FPS=5, GPU=99%, CPU=16%
    – F5: FPS=4-8, GPU=99%, CPU=12-28%
    – F6: FPS=1-6, GPU=99%, CPU=6-28% (no shadinng)

  • ca$per

    Same thing as Matumbo here. But i have Radeon 4850 on Win7 and Cat. 10.5
    F6 – asteroids are all black with all triangle variations (different EXEs).

  • TopLess3D

    Could you share your source code please (both C++ and GLSL), in order to learn advanced techniques and programming in OpenGL?

  • ddd

    Omg, make a GRAPH, not text :p

  • Psolord

    Completely off topic but I think our friend JegX should make a post about this.

  • hay JeGX R u died or what?????

    Not publishing any new article from 3 to 4 days???

    Fight with GirlFriend?????????

  • r u alive????????

  • codablank

    where can I find the source of this demo ? or a similar source ? I get very bad performance with glDrawElements() (1000 cube instances max ) and glDrawElementsInstanced gives the same result

    Yet I get a descent FPS when I run your demo (I’m on ATI 4850, opengl 2.1)

  • Ryan

    Yeah, the source for this would be really handy!

  • 180 million eh? According to 3dmark 01, my gtx 470 does 400 million.


    Instancing as in the article however, does not use as much cpu power, but is also less useful than “real” cpu aware polygons.

    the 470 fermi have several setup engines running in parallel instead of just one as all the previous gpus (ati and nvidia)

    please delete my previous post

  • OnlyLinuxLovesUBack

    where do i get the source code?