First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

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First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:00 am

Roughly 2000 users have reported by now, here's the first preliminary results, in parentheses the numbers from 3.5.0 with roughly 2000 users:

79% (67%) use Vulkan compatible hardware.
11% (17%) use hardware which can run OpenGL with all features enabled but cannot run Vulkan.
10.6% (12.6%) use legacy hardware which requires fallback solutions in the renderer and only has limited support for some features.

1.3% (3.3%) use a real 32 bit system.
Mac numbers are not representative yet due to delayed availability of the binary.
5.7% (6.3%) use Linux.

69% use a system with 4 CPU cores and more - among the Vulkan compatible systems this is 82%.

The big things are obvious:

First, 32 bit systems are clearly on their way out. They have massively decreased since last year, but unlike last year where they started weak but picked up a bit as more numbers came in, this time the opposite happened: They started weak but only got weaker day after day. The writing on the wall is very clear. 32 Bit is dying - and dying fast. Projecting into the future I think we can assume that after the coming Christmas season it will drop even further into irrelevance as more old computers get retired. With this in mind, the current plan is to continue support until the end of the year, but then discontinuing it and adding some features incompatible with 32 bit that have been requested - the biggest one being 64 bit integer support in the VM, meaning there will only be 64 bit builds being made for all platforms from next year on. So far there have been no reports from 32 bit Linux systems, it has only been Windows and judging from the configurations, it is nearly all ancient systems from at least 8 years ago.

These numbers are very much in line with what Steam's hardware survey had been indicating all along.

The second thing is legacy graphics hardware support. Again, the trend is very clear: Old graphics cards are disappearing fast, and what is even worse, all manufacturers have already deprecated their non-Vulkan supporting hardware, no longer providing driver updates for it. Although the current numbers are still far too high to even think about discontinuing OpenGL, it is very clear that support for such hardware in general is evaporating a lot faster than the user share here declines. It is only a matter of time until operating system support for such hardware will get bad enough to force it out of the market. I think the final decision here will not be made by declining user share but by external factors forcing us to move on in the not so distant future. It's not that I expect OpenGL to disappear, but the legacy hardware to get squeezed out at which point supporting a legacy API becomes pointless.


The third important thing for GZDooom is the number of installed CPU cores. Right now, 70% of all users and 82% of users with Vulkan compatible hardware have 4 or more cores, meaning that for the Vulkan backend multithreaded optimizations are definitely a viable option.

Last, but not least, Windows 10 currently has a user share of 75%, Windows 7+8 together have 13%. This won't have any impact on GZDoom itself, because GZDoom does not use any post-Windows 7 features for anything, but should be a clear warning sign to Windows 7 holdouts: The system is disappearing from the market A LOT quicker than Windows XP when it reached the end of its life!
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby drfrag » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:52 am

I can't imagine why anyone would need a 64 bit integer in a Doom mod, as i've seen you can represent a range of 4.29*10^9 values with a 32 bit integer.
Performance reasons? I only know that in C++ a 64 bit int on a 32 bit system will suffer a performance penalty.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Rachael » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:38 am

drfrag wrote:I can't imagine why anyone would need a 64 bit integer in a Doom mod, as i've seen you can represent a range of 4.29*10^9 values with a 32 bit integer.
Performance reasons? I only know that in C++ a 64 bit int on a 32 bit system will suffer a performance penalty.

Why would ANYONE need 64 bit integers in the first place? The simple truth is: They would not exist if we did not need them.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:14 pm

We already had a feature request for 64 bit integers, so some people apparently need them.
The reason why 32 bit support is a problem is not immediate performance but that the 32 bit VM has no 64 bit registers, so they'd have to be added first. On 64 bit they can piggyback on the address registers which are already 64 bit.

But be it as it may, 32 bit already has incomplete feature support and has been relegated to a second thought during development. All main development happens with the 64 bit version and it cannot be ruled out that 32 bit may have some regressions due to lack of testing. With the low and decreasing user share it quickly becomes a drag.

My original plan had been to wait with both 32 bit and OpenGL2 until they dropped below 2%. With OpenGL 2 this did not work out because it was too much of a blocker. 32 bit's life could be extended a bit, but now it has crossed the threshold I set for myself as a cutoff point.

Regarding register size: 128 bit floating point would be cool, unfortunately on that front nothing is happening.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Apeirogon » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:49 pm

Graf Zahl wrote:It is only a matter of time until operating system support for such hardware will get bad enough to force it out of the market.

And how much time do you think it will take? 4-5 years?
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:34 pm

Yes, something like that. All it needs is some change that makes older drivers incompatible and with Windows 7 and 8 having been dropped off the support list by Microsoft it'd mean those old cards are toast.

Never forget that this is all old legacy stuff that has been obsolete for many years. It's amazing that all of it still works, if this was Apple instead of Microsoft it'd all be junk by now.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:51 am

Here's some info about the kinds of graphics cards that are being used:

52% of all reporting users run a modern high end graphics card (46% NVidia, 6% AMD), this roughly means Geforce 960 or better. These are cards that can run the engine with all effects enabled.
15% of all reporting users run a mid range graphics card (11% NVidia, 4% AMD), these are cards that can run the game fine, but need to disable the costly postprocessing effects like SSAO and shadowmaps.
9% of all reporting users run a Vulkan compatible low end graphics card (2% NVidia, 4% AMD, 3% Intel), which should be sufficient most of the time but will have problems with large maps and postprocessing effects.
I did not further classify the legacy hardware beyond what was mentioned above.

The numbers here do not add up to the abovementioned 79% because I only sampled 90% of the incoming reports, the rest wasn't easily classifiable and that applied more to high end hardware than to low end hardware.

But overall this paints a relatively clear picture that modern performant high end hardware is significantly more widespread than is often assumed.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Gez » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:49 am

Graf Zahl wrote:11% (17%) use hardware which can run OpenGL with all features enabled but cannot run Vulkan.

I believe I'm in that category. GeForce 610M.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:53 am

Yes, that's definitely in this category. Somewhat underpowered, isn't it?
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby MartinHowe » Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:45 am

Gez wrote:
Graf Zahl wrote:11% (17%) use hardware which can run OpenGL with all features enabled but cannot run Vulkan.

I believe I'm in that category. GeForce 610M.

Me too, 550ti, which is all I need to run the average DOOM level or PWAD. I'd have to upgrade my entire machine, as the lowest Vulkan compatible cards won't run on PCIe 1.0. I think this is why many of us on low incomes or who cannot justify a big spend just to be able to run an up-to-date ZDoom derived engine in the first place, owe a great debt to Dr Frag, or will do in future years.

I can't be alone in loving the engine improvements (e.g., advanced DECORATE, ZScript, etc.) but being totally disinterested in advanced graphical effects.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Graf Zahl » Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:54 am

When OpenGL starts falling through the cracks, all the drfrags in the world won't be able to help you anymore. You'll either have to use an old unsupported OS or upgrade the hardware.

Unlike all the other things that got removed or changed the OpenGL backend is not really an obstacle so when it starts to fall apart it'll be due to external factors.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby MartinHowe » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:01 am

Graf Zahl wrote:When OpenGL starts falling through the cracks, all the drfrags in the world won't be able to help you anymore. You'll either have to use an old unsupported OS or upgrade the hardware.


@Graf Zahl, Please forgive my ignorance about graphics, is it really likely that OpenGL will eventually be replaced by Vulkan completely one day, that is, no OS will support it? As that's what this would imply. (Though I think I saw you said around 4 years on another post, by which time I probably will have upgraded my machine by then anyway).
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Undead » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:04 am

MartinHowe wrote:@Graf Zahl, Please forgive my ignorance about graphics, is it really likely that OpenGL will eventually be replaced by Vulkan completely one day, that is, no OS will support it? As that's what this would imply.

Most likely, yeah, same way as cars have long since overshadowed horses as a medium of transport. Things get replaced.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby Rachael » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:17 am

MartinHowe wrote:@Graf Zahl, Please forgive my ignorance about graphics, is it really likely that OpenGL will eventually be replaced by Vulkan completely one day, that is, no OS will support it? As that's what this would imply. (Though I think I saw you said around 4 years on another post, by which time I probably will have upgraded my machine by then anyway).

Yes.

How do you think DOS survived?

News flash: It didn't. It offered none of the features needed by a modern OS - no point and click GUI, no multitasking, no hardware abstraction layer (remember how much of a NIGHTMARE it was to configure every single game for your specific hardware back in the DOS days?). It was very difficult to use for a beginner and required someone either willing to pour through DOS manuals for days to learn the system (such as I did), or someone willing to sit next to them and teach it.

Windows 95/98 went the way of the dodo bird, too, quickly to be replaced by Windows XP, which itself is quickly going extinct as well. And Windows 7 will soon follow.

Of course - it's still possible to run all of these ancient OS's, especially through the use of VM software, but the point remains: none of them are mainstream OS's anymore (except 7, but that will change in a few months - to be honest, I think Microsoft has a nasty surprise in store for us when that happens - especially since it is the last OS to not support UWP).

Likewise, the hardware of those times is quickly being replaced as well. For instance - no one uses Pentium 2's anymore. No one uses a Sound Blaster card anymore. Certainly no one uses a non-accelerated graphics card, such as the S3 Trio's that were really popular in the 90's.

This is the nature of the beast. It is unfortunate for us, but the cost of ownership of a PC is replacing it every few years. That's just the way it is. But there are a few trade secrets (ie eBay) that can make it much less painful for you, and get you more bang for your buck in the long run.

Just think: At least it isn't still the 90's, where you actually had to replace your PC every couple of years, because hardware was advancing at a MUCH more rapid rate than it is now.
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Re: First results from the GZDoom 4.2.0 survey

Postby dpJudas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:26 am

I don't think people need to fear OpenGL 4 being dropped by hardware vendors any time soon. Not even by AMD or Intel. It is one of those technologies that are used by enough products out there that it will be supported for a very long time - just like Direct3D 9 and DirectDraw still has support.

I do agree on the Windows 7 thing though - I don't think it will have as long an afterlife as Windows XP did. If your hardware works on Windows 10 then you're good for a lot of years (although, performance might not be great). If your computer can only run Windows 7 then you're probably out of luck in less than 2 years.
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