Just as expected, Futuremark unleashed the latest version if its flagship 3D graphics benchmark earlier today. 3DMark Vantage brings a brand new, DirectX 10-only engine with GPU-simulated physics effects, such as water wave and foam simulations, and fancy graphics post-processing effects like depth-of-field, motion blur, dynamic color correction, and volumetric fog.
Along with its two GPU tests and six feature tests, the new benchmark stresses CPUs with two additional tests. Those CPU tests include "heavily multi-threaded" artificial intelligence simulations (featuring "co-operative 3D-pathfinding algorithms, utilizing a state-of-the art lock-free task scheduling core") and a physics system that simulates cloth and fluid dynamics. Futuremark has even coded in support for physics processing units, even though Nvidia's acquisition of Ageia pretty much sealed the fate of discrete PPUs.
Also, unlike previous iterations of 3DMark, the new version includes four presets that range from "value through performance to high end cinematic rendering resolutions and features" and allow users to test a greater variety of systems.
All those capabilities do come at a price, however. You see, the free version of 3DMark Vantage is a single-use trial that requires users to register and enter an activation key. Futuremark wants $6.95 for the Basic Edition, which doesn't include all tests and presets, and $19.95 for the Advanced Edition, which does. Folks not running 3DMark Vantage for non-profit use will have to pay up $495 "per seat" for the Professional Edition.