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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
AMD TressFX Technology Brings Realism In PC Gaming

Until now, characters in your favorite games have largely featured totally unrealistic hair, as displaying realistic hair is one of the most complex and challenging materials to accurately reproduce in real-time. AMD wants to make the difference with the introduction of the TressFX technology.

Convincingly recreating a head of lively hair involves drawing tens of thousands of tiny and individual semi-transparent strands, each of which casts complex shadows and requires anti-aliasing. Even more challengingly, these calculations must be updated dozens of times per second to synchronize with the motion of a character.

Through collaboration between software developers at AMD and Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider features the world?s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game: TressFX Hair.

Lara Croft is an iconic character with an equally iconic ponytail. AMD says that the TressFX Hair technology revolutionizes Lara Croft's locks by using the DirectCompute programming language to unlock the parallel processing capabilities of the Graphics Core Next architecture, enabling image quality previously restricted to pre-rendered images. Building on AMD's previous work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT), this method makes use of Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage.

DirectCompute is additionally utilized to perform the real-time physics simulations for TressFX Hair. This physics system treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting for forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara's hair in a realistic fashion. Further, collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara's head, clothing and body. Finally, hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force.

Graphics cards featuring the Graphics Core Next architecture, like select AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series, are particularly equipped to handle these types of tasks, with their combination of fast on-chip shared memory and massive processing throughput on the order of trillions of operations per second.

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