Pixel Shader 3.0 may turn out to be a decisive factor in the fight for graphics supremacy between nVidia's NV40 based boards and ATIs R420 chips. As most of you will know nVidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra already supports the new feature while ATI chose not to, dismissing it as not necessary for the time being.
This time however, ATI may have got their timing wrong. Pixel Shader model 3.0 it appears, is already supported by a game, one of the most impressive ones at that, as Far Cry is already keeping its end of the way its meant to be played deal.
It has been the case in the past that new features, such as PS 3.0, needed at least 6 months to a year until they were fully supported by software. This time however, much to ATIs dismay, it seems that PS 3.0 will be supported by most major titles.
Many experts do suggest that Far Cry support for PS 3.0 is not full and that it was added only as a taster and a boost to nVidia's cause. Despite the Far Cry case though it is becoming clear that forthcoming games will also offer support for PS 3.0 with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developers,for example, already claiming to have included it.
It seems that this may prove a sticky issue for ATI as all they can do with their developer partners, for the time being, is ask them to not activate PS 3.0 in their games. Such a request, if made, by ATI would be asking a developer to make their game technologically inferior in order to avoid assisting its rival so it may cause some friction. It will be interesting to see how Valve will handle the issue with H-L 2, although the most likely approach will be to include PS 3.0 but to avoid stressing its use at every opportunity, something nVidia partners will most definitely do.