Tuesday, February 26th 2013

AMD TressFX Technology Detailed

AMD unveiled the new TressFX technology it teased us with, earlier this week. The technology, as predicted, works to create realistic hair rendering and physics; but we imagine it could be applied to foliage and hopefully, furry donuts as well. It will be first implemented in the 2013 reboot title of the Tomb Raider franchise, in which Lara Croft finally parted with her braid. TressFX helps accurately render Croft's hair, drawing finer locks of hair than pre-rendered hair textures plastered on bigger hair polygons that look unnatural. The free and fluid nature of these locks can then be used to accurately draw the effects of wind and water onto the hair. Below are a few before-after instances of TressFX.

Technically, TressFX is a toolset co-developed by AMD and Crystal Dynamics, which taps into DirectCompute to unlock the number-crunching prowess of the GPU (specifically Graphics CoreNext ones), to render individual strands of hair. It is built on the foundation laid by AMD's work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT), and uses Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage. DirectCompute is additionally used to process the physics of these strands of hair, which are affected by the character's motion, and elements such as wind and water/rain. TressFX will be implemented at least on the PC version of the upcoming Tomb Raider.
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100 Comments on AMD TressFX Technology Detailed

#1
TRWOV
Ageia Physx was CPU based from the get go. The PPUs were a tie in but not required.

Still nVidia's gimping has been documented several times. Basically physx on CPU runs in x87, a set of instructions that no modern software has used since 10 years ago. x87 is the lowest common denominator but I'd say that whomever wanted to play a physx enabled game would have a CPU with SSE2 support at least.
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#2
HumanSmoke
by: Xzibit
You kind of left the most important part out.
Nope. Nvidia is a GPU company, it was always intended that Nvidia PhysX would be GPU-centric. The facts of the matter are that AMD could have bought Ageia, didn't buy Ageia, and they didn't want to licence PhysX.
by: Xzibit
Games using Havok doesnt look like 0 :ohwell:
Except that 1. I wasn't referring to Havok, and 2. I was referring to OpenCL Havok FX which AMD was promoting. See virtually every link posted including the one above. The fact remains that ATi/AMD championing OpenCL physics predates Nvidia's involvement with the tech...one provided a tangible product, the other produced nothing.
by: Xzibit
Not to mention that PhysX seamed to be a PS3 priority and PCs were taking a backseat so they were content to only update PhysX for the GPU and leave CPU behind
No (again). For some reason, you seem fixated on only one area of the tech. PhysX is also used in professional arena, as middleware, and even the :eek: PlayStation 4 (note the physics section)
by: Mussels
physX has always disabled most of its 'features' if ran on a CPU. it ran on CPU for the consoles, but on PC it would always turn off or reduce effects drastically for CPU use (yes, even when sufficient CPU power was provided). it was deliberately sabotaged to make it 'better' when GPU accelerated.
I don't think I made the point of stating otherwise. You think it strange that a GPU company would buy a technology and then integrate it into their product stack rather than optimize it for their competitors ?
by: TRWOV
Still nVidia's gimping has been documented several times. Basically physx on CPU runs in x87, a set of instructions that no modern software has used since 10 years ago. x87 is the lowest common denominator but I'd say that whomever wanted to play a physx enabled game would have a CPU with SSE2 support at least.
PhysX has used SSE2 compile for almost three years.
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#3
theoneandonlymrk
by: TRWOV
Ageia Physx was CPU based from the get go. The PPUs were a tie in but not required.

Still nVidia's gimping has been documented several times. Basically physx on CPU runs in x87, a set of instructions that no modern software has used since 10 years ago. x87 is the lowest common denominator but I'd say that whomever wanted to play a physx enabled game would have a CPU with SSE2 support at least.
I gotta say that for me its nvidias entire handling of aigea and physx thats riled me most in recent years as well as their blatant money grabbing obv , but either way im passing them minimal cash these days and irs their fault.

OT Mussels I appreciate your feedback on the way this tech might be used, I had not considered grass etc, I like it even more now and I think Amd should be applauded for bringing us an open multi format physics feature which will no doubt be expanded upon.
And its open enough to run on enemy radars from the get go, oh no they didn't. .; o
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#4
HumanSmoke
by: james888
I am pretty sure that hair on the bald guy was not done by amd's tressfx.
Correct, AMD's patented StressFX causes that effect
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#5
TRWOV
by: HumanSmoke

PhysX has used SSE2 compile for almost three years.
Oh, I'll shut my hole then. In my defense PPUs support up to 2.8.1 so I wasn't aware of the change. :o
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#6
Lionheart
by: Prima.Vera
What's an organic apple juice. Can it be inorganic apple juice?? :eek::eek:
:nutkick::laugh::clap:
Lolz organic as in grown naturally, no pesticides, no herbicides, no GMO's, no preservatives, not reconstituted, 100% healthiness :rockout::pimp:
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#7
Vertrucio
Not really, "organic" is a sham label.

They still use pesticides, they just happen to use silly stuff that seems natural, oh you know, stuff like concentrated urine. Look it up. ;)

Back to this. Just think of TressFX as a stepping stone to a full, non-proprietary API GPU physics system.

I mean, let's be honest here, with AMD doing all the CPU and GPU ships for both next gen consoles, with the PS4 already shown to have quite capable GPU physics from its demos, it's pretty clear that AMD has already created many technologies that make PhysX's proprietary nvidia only gpu physics modes obsolete.

Now, as these consoles are closer to release, more and more developers will be working with these new non-proprietary APIs, allowing (and forcing) all developers to use these physics tools.
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#8
Roph
Hopefully this can be another nail in PhysX's coffin :)
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#9
TheHunter
heh so here is another nvidia physx bull vs AMD tressFX direct compute physics debate? I 've seen this in other forums too.. xD

NV physx3 HW is still crippled, even with improved SSE2, physx 2.8.x is much worse - in HW layer, SW is ok but nothing special compared to any other physics engine.



Btw nvidia's hair tech demo from y2010 doesnt use physx, but tessellation and direct compute physics calculations, just like this tressFX.


Imo AMD nailed it with this tressFX, apparently its used in upcoming Luminous engine as well - for hair rendering. :)
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#10
Wshlist
On ageia

by: HumanSmoke
Nope. Nvidia is a GPU company, it was always intended that Nvidia PhysX would be GPU-centric. The facts of the matter are that AMD could have bought Ageia, didn't buy Ageia, and they didn't want to licence PhysX.
Actually ageia's system was designed to be quite different and its cards had a task-specific design. What nvidia did was basically kill the original concept, and then made their own system which was a poor substitute for the original concept since they have to do it on a graphics card. And it would have been an enormous shame except that ageia was not going to make it anyway I expect.
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#11
HumanSmoke
by: Wshlist
Actually ageia's system was designed to be quite different and its cards had a task-specific design. What nvidia did was basically kill the original concept, and then made their own system which was a poor substitute for the original concept since they have to do it on a graphics card. And it would have been an enormous shame except that ageia was not going to make it anyway I expect.
Don't.Care.What.Ageia.Intended.

My post stated:
Nope. Nvidia is a GPU company, it was always intended that Nvidia PhysX would be GPU-centric.
To put this into context:
Nvidia make GPUs - they don't make CPUs
Why would Nvidia buy IP, then optimize it to not only benefit their competition (who make CPUs), but to make their own GPUs irrelevant in using the technology? <<
by: Wshlist
NV physx3 HW is still crippled, even with improved SSE2, physx 2.8.x is much worse - in HW layer, SW is ok but nothing special compared to any other physics engine
That's probably more about keeping backward compatibility (esp. with consoles), and the fact that game dev's are a pretty lazy bunch that need spoon feeding. I think you'll find that the 3.x SDK is also available.

As far as popularity goes, it waxs and wanes based on individual titles. With many game engines now incorporating their own physics engines ( e.g. Frostbyte 2), PhysX is just one of a whole raft of game orientated physics engines...but then again, just like Lagoa and other pro/scientific function physics engines, PhysX has uses outside of eye candy.
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#12
Wshlist
Well I'm not in the whole extensive discussion and only remarked on the history part, but the whole difference between the ageia version and the nvidia version is that the ageia version was usable as a scientific thing, whereas the nvidia incarnation is just for games really.

And that's the part that is a pity really.
But of course that's all semi-superseded by the development the last few years with openCL and DirectCompute and even CUDA and such. And changes in the hardware also helped, so we are at a different point than when ageia first released their idea.

Still we should not re-write history either and ageia much more focused on true parallelism in calculation and accessing data.
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#14
Lazzer408
I found this on avforums and thought it was funny.

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#15
partyboy75
As I can see the Lara Croft's ass still consists of poligons.
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#17
Prima.Vera
Nice. To bad is only the hair. We want moar physics from AMD. :)
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#18
Kaynar
by: Roph
Hopefully this can be another nail in PhysX's coffin :)
I think its better to say "hopefully AMD will continue to develop their physics dedicated software" so that we end up having more games with physics features that will be supported by PhysX and AMD's similar tech. While you can currently run PhysX through CPU (software) if you got AMD gpu its very "heavy" for the system , so if AMD would develop an equilalent software that takes advantage of their gpu's tech then everyone would benefit from it (both gpu companies, developers and customers as well)
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#19
Xzibit
by: Kaynar
I think its better to say "hopefully AMD will continue to develop their physics dedicated software" so that we end up having more games with physics features that will be supported by PhysX and AMD's similar tech. While you can currently run PhysX through CPU (software) if you got AMD gpu its very "heavy" for the system , so if AMD would develop an equilalent software that takes advantage of their gpu's tech then everyone would benefit from it (both gpu companies, developers and customers as well)
Its DirectX API. So its not beholden to either company. As long as a GPU or APU is DirectX 11 or above compliant it should be fine.
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#21
Xzibit
There is an interesting article that BSN put up on the Tomb Raider ordeal.

Tomb Raider: AMD Touts TressFX Hair as Nvidia Apologizes for Poor Experience.
Furthermore, in off-the-record discussions with the developers, we learned that Nvidia no longer invests as much in PC gaming developer teams as it used to, as Tegra is viewed as the main growth driver in the company. Naturally, this is purely one sided view, but a view coming from several game development companies which combined shipped over 100 million units.
Will the recent turn of events cause Nvidia to invest more money into PC game developer support program? Only time will tell but for now the tide seems to be turning towards AMD in a pretty big way. CryTek (Crysis 3), Irrational Games (BioShock Infinite), Ubi Soft (Far Cry 3), Maxis (Sim City), Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Ubi Soft... this can no longer be dismissed as exceptions, they're a tidal wave of game developers and publishers shifting towards the red color. They obviously decided to never settle for second best, pun intended.
Funny pun :nutkick:
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#22
AphexDreamer
TressFX, more like StressFX.

The look don't justify the lowered performance in my case.
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#23
Mussels
Moderprator
by: AphexDreamer
TressFX, more like StressFX.

The look don't justify the lowered performance in my case.
what lowered performance? did i miss a performance analysis somewhere?
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#24
AphexDreamer
by: Mussels
what lowered performance? did i miss a performance analysis somewhere?
Drops my frames to the teens in cut scenes (especially when it's really focused on her head) and sometimes 20s just in gameplay. My 5870 just can't cut it.
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#25
Mussels
Moderprator
by: AphexDreamer
Drops my frames to the teens in cut scenes (especially when it's really focused on her head) and sometimes 20s just in gameplay. My 5870 just can't cut it.
to be fair, as a fellow 5870 owner... they ARE several generations old. its nice we have the feature at all, and that its not exclusive to the new hardware.
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