10 years ago, NVIDIA launched its in-house graphics demo, titled Dawn. It was a highly advanced benchmark for its time but today, NVIDIA decided to release a revamped version of Dawn that's designed to showcase the company's highest end graphics cards.
The new version is called simply A New Dawn and it can be downloaded from the company's GeForce.com web site. As you might expect, the new demo is light years ahead of the original Dawn. While the 2002 version had the character in a giant textured cube map, the 2012 A New Dawn demo has a full 3D rain forest enviroment. NVIDIA states, "At its peak, over four million triangles are used to showcase Dawn's environment."
The character of Dawn had just 1,700 individual hairs on her head but A New Dawn has raised that number up to 40,000. The new Dawn's skin has also received an upgrade. NVIDIA states:
To smartly manage workload, the new skin shader dynamically selects the number of samples to filter, depending on how visible the surface is. Detail maps are used to capture fine hairs, bumps, and skin imperfections. Four independent textures describe the oil content of the skin.
Other graphical features in A New Dawn demo include environment-based lighting, local dynamic lights, perspective shadow maps, screen space ambient occlusion, depth-of-field rendering and support for FXAA antialiasing.
While the demo was made to showcase the hardware features of NVIDIA's high end GeForce GTX 690 graphics card, NVIDIA has also allowed owners of its lower end GTX 670 or 680 cards to check it out as well, although some of the more intensive graphical features have been disabled. Owners of two GTX 670 or GTX 680 in SLI mode can check out the full version of the demo.