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Since the dawn of the 3D era, characters in video games have largely featured totally unrealistic hair: blocky and jagged, often without animation that matches the character’s movements. Eight years ago Nvidia Corp. even demonstrated how hair is meant to look like in video games with its Nalu tech demo. Unfortunately, hair in games have so far looked unrealistic. Advanced Micro Devices wants to change that with its TressFX technology.

Given its nature, realistic hair is one of the most complex and challenging materials to accurately reproduce in real-time. 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. With AMD TressFX technology that is based on DirectCompute programming language, it is now possible to accurately reproduce hair and foliage through extensive usage of highly-parallel computing.

TressFX Hair revolutionizes Lara Croft’s locks by using the DirectCompute programming language to unlock the massively-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.


Wind tears through a perilous chasm, whipping Lara’s ponytail to the side. With TressFX Hair, each one of her thousands of individualized strands of hair are constantly changing with the windspeed.

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.


Stranded on a beach in driving rain, Lara’s hair hangs heavy and matted with TressFX Hair; the real-time physics calculation accounts for both moisture and wind.

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 GCN architecture, like select AMD Radeon HD 7000-series, are particularly well-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.

 
Reading over the ruins of an old map, TressFX Hair allows every movement of Lara’s head to be reflected in thousands of strands of hair—all in real time.

Tags: AMD, TressFX, Radeon, ATI, GCN, GPGPU, DirectCompute

Discussion

Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 02/27/13 04:10:39 AM
Latest comment: 07/11/14 10:21:12 PM
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1. 
Hair is nice. Now bring on the other physics effects that are done in crappy Physx only on nvidia hardware. About time Ph will have a serious competition. And please make this available on all cards not just latest AMD's ones.
1 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 02/27/13 04:10:39 AM]
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It's based around the latest Direct Compute API. Unless the graphics card has hardware implemented Direct Compute architecture, it just is not possible i'm afraid. Sounds like this may be a good excuse for you to upgrade ;-)
0 0 [Posted by: JBG  | Date: 02/27/13 07:11:33 AM]
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2. 
Instead of using OpenCL_compute_shaders that are platform independent (every card has OpenCL), they using Direct_compute. The "Nokia" of the graphics. As a Linux user i hope that they perish.
0 1 [Posted by: artivision  | Date: 02/28/13 10:37:45 AM]
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3. 
Really, seing those pictures did not convince me at all. Some details are well rendered, but others are quite unatural particularly in the first and third examples shown. Have you ever seen hairs being light and floting under heavy rain? It's a nice start, but it still needs improvement. Showing these picts to impress us was a mistake. Still, this could bring a lot to the experience with a little more work!
0 0 [Posted by: MHudon  | Date: 03/01/13 10:39:08 AM]
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Unfortunately yes. Yes I have seen hairs floating under heavy rain. Unless my hair is literally underwater it curls, and frizzes. In fact it makes it worse. Rain (unless it is some kind of torrential down pour heaver than a shower head) does not usually provide enough force to tame my frizz. Not sure how the light refraction comes into play as I'm not looking at my own head, but the placement of strands around Lara's ears and on her shoulders can be very common for curly, textured, dry, Caucasian hair.
0 0 [Posted by: Rachel Causey  | Date: 07/11/14 10:21:12 PM]
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