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Author : Ryan 'MrB' Ku,Mark 'Ratchet' Thorne
Date : May 21st, 2003

The Dawning of ATI

Update! (09/09/2004) : Forum member madshi has created a wrapper for the wrapper that should make Dawn work with any of the newer Catalyst drivers.

Needed are two files:

Download Link Removed (99k .ZIP)

Put both in the Dawn\bin folder then execute StartDawn.exe instead of Fairy.exe.

StartDawn searches for Fairy.exe, Quake3.exe and 3DMark03.exe. If it finds any of those, it starts that. If you want to use another name for the Dawn.exe, you have to tell StartDawn which (via parameter). If you want to use Ultra Mode you have to pass extra arguments to StartDawn on the command-line or by editing the start command within the shortcut properties.
    StartDawn args_ultra.txt starts Dawn in Ultra Mode.
    StartDawn <filename>.exe args_ultra.txt starts Dawn in Ultra Mode using one of the alternate filenames.

Update! With the newer Catalyst releases, ATI has removed the OpenGL extension from the drivers needed for the patch to work (they actually just updated the OpenGL drivers and renamed the nv_point_sprite extension to arb_point_sprite to comply with the OGL spec). Anyway, if you want to get this to work you need to follow a few extra steps:

  1. First, follow the instructions below to get and install the Dawn Demo and the OpenGL wrapper.
  2. Then download this zip file (1.7MB). It contains an older version of ATI's OpenGL driver which has the nv_point_sprite extension.
  3. Extract the file from the zip and place it in your C:\Program Files\Dawn\bin\ folder. This way, when Dawn launches, it will load the older version of the OpenGL driver instead of the default version that comes with the newer Catalyst drivers.
A few notes on this wrapper and the Dawn demo in general:
  1. The Dawn demo requires a DirectX 9.0 class videocard. It will not work on any Radeon which has a model of 9200 or lower. ATI videocards from the Radeon 9500 and up are all DirectX 9.0 class cards.
  2. The Dawn demo requires Windows XP. There are some people that say it works on Windows 2000 but I have not confirmed that. It definitly does not work on Windows ME/98/95.
  3. The wrapper was created by an MIT Computer Sciences student who wishes to remain anonymous. It was not created by anyone associated with Rage3D and it was definitly not created by anyone associated with ATI!
  4. The wrapper does not work with any other nVidia demos, including the new Dusk demo.
  5. We have no idea if there will ever be another update to the wrapper, but you can rest assured that if there is you will find it here

When I first saw Nvidia’s new GeForce FX Dawn demo I was quite impressed. ATI’s demos done by Alex and the ATI Research crew are of course impressive as well, but the Dawn demo had a certain appeal. Maybe it was the human form, life-like facial expressions, realistic skins tones and texture, or most likely the sexual appeal. So it was disappointing to find out that this magnificent demo would not be able to run on ATI’s DX9 graphic cards. Luckily a group of MIT engineering students were disappointed by the same thing (also rumoured that they were unhappy with Nvidia's image quality and performance) and were up to the task of making it work on ATI hardware (and the brains!). The end result was an opengl wrapper that made the demo run smoothly on ATI hardware. Most impressive!

The following was said about the opengl wrapper:

  • It runs 15% faster than NV30 on the 9800pro, and it also runs faster than NV35 (we are unable to personally confirm this but a user with both cards and FRAPS could).
  • Creates higher quality images than the original due to the normalization being done in a fragment program (dp3/rsq/mul) instead of in a normalization cubemap which the FX extensions does directly in hardware
  • The OpenGL wrapper adds more overhead, as it has to interperet code calls for Nvidia extensions and map them to ATI/ARB extensions, and yet it still runs faster on the ATI card, due to its more sophisticated pixel shader engine.


  • A graphic card that supports GL_ARB_*_program and GL_ATI_vertex_array_object
  • Nvidia Dawn Demo
  • 512MB System Memory
  • Patch works with the following chipsets
    • R350 based cards
    • R300 based cards
    • RV350 based cards
    • M10 chipset
  • Windows XP with DirectX 9
  • Catalyst 3.4 or newer


  • Unzip and place opengl32.dll into the bin directory of the installed demo. Default example would be c:\program files\nvidia corporation\nvidia demos\dawn\bin

How to change resolutions

  1. Select properties for the args.txt or args_ultra.txt in the bin directory and deselect Read-only attribute
  2. Change to desired resolution which has the commented line "// Window width/height", default resolution is 1024x768
  3. Go back to properties and select Read-only attribute

Experienced issues

  • Selecting Wireframe mode or Point mode under Drawstyle results in the demo crashing
  • The dll does not work with other GeForce FX demos

Update: A new patch is now available that fixes a few problems encountered in the original release:
  • Fixed Anisotropic Lighting on Dawn's hair
  • Fixed Dawn's missing eyelashes
Download the updated OpenGL wrapper ( June 30, 2003 )
( For those of you having problems with the updated patch, you can try the original and see if that works. Download it here. )

Download this patch if you use an AMD Thunderbird CPU

Download the Dawn demo (~79MB)

1024x768 - No AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - No AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - No AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - No AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / No AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / No AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / No AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / No AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1024x768 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1280x960 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1280x960 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1280x960 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1280x960 - 4x AA / 16x AF
1600x1200 - No AA / 16x AF
1600x1200 - No AA / 16x AF
1600x1200 - No AA / 16x AF
1600x1200 - No AA / 16x AF

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