AMD's TressFX hair rendering magic revealed, making Lara's hair cutest on PC

AMD’s TressFX hair rendering magic revealed, making Lara’s hair cutest on PC

AMD’s TressFX hair rendering magic revealed, making Lara’s hair cutest on PC

After making fun of us all with its TressFX tagline – Render. rinse. Repeat – AMD today revealed their (apparently painstaking) collaboration with Crystal Dynamics: the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game. Tomb Raider is the first game to get this treatment, and its ragged heroine’s bonce features the most advanced follicle technology ever.

According to AMD, realistic hair is one of the most complex and challenging materials to produce accurately in real-time. With so many different strands and physics calculations to model their interactions, it’s no wonder we’ve been stuck with chunky polygon-making weight barnets in our games. But no more.

TressFX uses the existing DirectCompute language to harness the massively parallel capabilities of modern graphics cards, and AMD sees the Graphics Core Next architecture as the key to being able to render hair accurately in real-time. It’s unclear if the TressFX technology will be exclusive to AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture, or if it will run on any GPU with the computing power required to process such a large number of objects.However, it is strongly suggested that it will be an open technology: AMD has talked a lot about using the open DirectCompute language, and while their GCN architecture is particularly well suited to handle these things, they have never said it is only Architectural capabilities.

This could be very important for the technology to be widely used by different developers, and considering that Nvidia’s Tessellation/computing based hair technology hasn’t really been adopted since it launched with Fermi in 2010, you’d expect AMD to see an opportunity to make their technology Openness to all is inherent. Additionally, AMD has a past form of embracing non-proprietary technologies such as HD3D technology and the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) it will soon introduce to its APUs – probably in the PlayStation 4 and NextBox – so we have high hopes.

The possibilities of this technology are exciting: more realistic snowmen, real-time beard physics, hair salon simulator 2014…

Let’s imagine!

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Wilbert Wood
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