Roughly a decade ago, Nvidia introduced a new graphics chip called the NV30, and it wasn’t exactly a rousing success. Despite a bundle of hype about the potential of DirectX 9-class capabilities to advance real-time graphics—much of it justified, it turns out—Nvidia’s first attempt at a DX9 chip was late to market, ran too hot, and couldn’t keep pace with the excellent Radeon 9700. Heck, we called it a disappointment before it even reached the market, once we got a look at the card design, saying: "Who knew Nvidia would stick a Dustbuster to the side of its next-gen graphics card in order to cool the GPU to where it could reach clock speeds higher than the Radeon 9700?" That remark earned us the right to buy our review card on eBay, which eventually led to our first review featuring results from a digital sound level meter. That puppy was loud!
One bright spot in the GeForce FX mess, though, was the real-time graphics demo Nvidia created for the product launch, featuring a nymph/fairy character known as Dawn. The graphics in it were ground-breaking, and in a breathtaking display of fan service, the scantily clad Dawn had sliders for shader effects like "oily skin" and "goosebumps," causing us to present this version of her in our FX review:
Cinematic graphics: Lubed up and a bit chilly
Had to be done.
Now, 10 years later, Dawn has returned in a new demo made for the Kepler GPU launch. Called simply "A New Dawn," this demo shows how far the possiblities for fan service in real-time graphics have advanced over time:
Honestly, the video doesn’t come close to doing it justice; the compression kills the detail. I’m running the demo now on a dual-GTX 680 rig at 2560×1600, and the detail is incredible—particularly on her hair and face. If you have a GTX 600-series graphics cards, you can check out the real thing yourself by downloading it here. It’s guaranteed to make you shake your fist and unleash an old-man shout at the relatively weak graphics in the last few crops of Xbox ports.