AMD Shows Off TressFX in Tomb Raider

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I’ll be honest. The first TressFX email I received came from an unknown AMD email address and I thought it was spam. Turns out it’s an actual thing and after looking at it, it’s pretty cool. Most recently they shared a video, so I’ll lead with that.

Here’s the press release:

AMD and Crystal Dynamics Collaboration Thrusts Gamers into One of the Most Realistic PC Gaming Experience Ever with the Launch of “Tomb Raider”
-– Visionary TressFX Hair technology fortifies each lustrous strand of Lara Croft’s hair with its own real-time physics system
SUNNYVALE, Calif. ─ Mar. 5, 2013 ─AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced a collaboration with Crystal Dynamics™ following the launch of “Tomb Raider,” one of the most highly anticipated PC games of 2013, and part of the AMD Gaming Evolved program. AMD and Crystal Dynamics worked together extensively on the development of “Tomb Raider,” most notably with TressFX Hair, the world’s first in-game implementation of a real-time, per-strand hair physics system. This leading-edge technology imparts one of the most iconic video game characters, Lara Croft, with an astonishingly lifelike appearance. With AMD Radeon™ graphics, gamers can unleash the full potential of this next-generation technology.

“With the launch of ‘Tomb Raider’ and TressFX Hair, AMD and Crystal Dynamics have radically pushed the boundaries of realism in the PC gaming experience,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Graphics. “Over the past several months, AMD has proven that the Gaming Evolved program is set to full throttle, and today’s launch is a testament to AMD’s ingenuity and innovation. Our team is working with the finest game developers in the world to ensure AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series graphics deliver the ultimate PC gaming experience.”

AMD Radeon™ Graphics Core Next (GCN) is the ideal architecture for outstanding “Tomb Raider” performance. Built with numerous compute-driven effects like High Definition Ambient Occlusion (HDAO) and Depth of Field (DOF), “Tomb Raider” uniquely exploits the computing strengths of GCN architecture and the AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series, enabling an unrivaled gaming experience. “Tomb Raider” also fully supports AMD CrossFire™ technology, immersive AMD Eyefinity multidisplay technology and AMD HD3D stereo 3D. What’s more, it is the first game in the franchise to take full advantage of DirectX® 11, a direct result of Crystal Dynamic’s collaboration with AMD Gaming Evolved.

“AMD and the Square Enix Studios, including Crystal Dynamics, have a long successful history of collaboration, starting with ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’ from Eidos Montreal,” said Darrell Gallagher, studio head, Crystal Dynamics. “We continue this close PC gaming relationship with the latest edition of ‘Tomb Raider.’ The AMD Gaming Evolved engineers and the team at Crystal Dynamics worked for months to make TressFX Hair a reality – with tremendous success. We believe that AMD Radeon Graphics and Graphics Core Next is the best way to take advantage of the dynamic realism we’ve brought to Lara in Tomb Raider.”

“Never Settle: Reloaded” Redemption

Coupons for “Tomb Raider” included in the AMD Radeon “Never Settle: Reloaded” bundle (Author’s note – See our write-up for bundle details) are provided by resellers in select regions[ Refer to regional availability here, ] when customers purchase select AMD Radeon HD 7900 and HD 7800 Series graphics cards, and coupons can be redeemed on the AMD redemption portal[ Terms and conditions apply – check for full details.].

They kind of buried the lead a bit with the small TressFX link. Here it is; click on it for details, but we’ll pull the screenshots for you to see right here. Just look at these side-by-side screenshots.

AMD TressFX - Image Courtesy AMD

AMD TressFX – Image Courtesy AMD

Side by Side Comparison

AMD TressFX - Image Courtesy AMD

AMD TressFX – Image Courtesy AMD

Windy Environment

AMD TressFX - Image Courtesy AMD

AMD TressFX – Image Courtesy AMD

Rainy Environment

AMD TressFX - Image Courtesy AMD

AMD TressFX – Image Courtesy AMD

Dry Environment

AMD TressFX - Image Courtesy AMD

AMD TressFX – Image Courtesy AMD

Be sure to follow the link for more details.

It’s actually quite an impressive improvement over standard hair. It does come at a hefty compute cost though. I don’t have Tomb Raider currently to test it out, but NVIDIA’s performance was so poor with it, they’ve issued a public apology.

“We are aware of major performance and stability issues with GeForce GPUs running Tomb Raider with maximum settings. Unfortunately, NVIDIA didn’t receive final code until this past weekend which substantially decreased stability, image quality and performance over a build we were previously provided. We are working closely with Crystal Dynamics to address and resolve all game issues as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, we would like to apologize to GeForce users that are not able to have a great experience playing Tomb Raider, as they have come to expect with all of their favorite PC games.”

(Courtesy Bright Side of News).

As this is part of the Gaming Evolved program, it sure sounds from NVIDIA as though they feel AMD worked closely with Crystal Dynamics to keep the entire game code hidden until launch. That in itself admittedly feels a little icky but does give AMD a strong advantage in this game for the time being. AMD has been working very closely with developers to bring these strong game bundles to market (much stronger than NVIDIA’s Free 2 Play Bundle program if you ask me) and it’s paying off. I’m sure NVIDIA will dive into the code and optimize it as best they can though. Expect performance to improve dramatically with new driver revisions.

Hopefully the FPS hit you’ll surely take by enabling this isn’t too bad. It does add a solid realism factor. While most people don’t necessarily even notice hair in games, if this shows up in more games it could help them become that much more realistic. Developers will be able to, you know, give their characters hair instead of opting for hats, helmets, enviro-suits, or short hair that we’ve all grown used to over the years.

That’s enough of my thoughts for the day though. What do you think of TressFX?

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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  1. Well, I'm not sure if I'll be getting a key to this but I'll keep following up. :) For now, those of you that have this game and an NVIDIA card should take heart; they've released a partially fixed driver along with a patch for the game that should help a lot.

    NVIDIA's short blog post about it:

    Beta driver download:

    Go forth and game happier. :salute:
    nar not at all, that was just my interpretation from skim reading. It was just more that i expected it to crush the performance, but it seems ok on my comp. On that note i probs need to update my drivers :P eheh
    I'm sorry if it gave you that impression. The feature works on NVIDIA cards no problem, it just bogs them down relative to AMD cards (because the latter worked closely optimizing the code with their drivers before release), so much so that NVIDIA issued the apology for its performance.

    Think of it similar to FXAA. An NVIDIA engineer created that but once implemented, both NVIDIA and AMD can use it.
    i thought this would only work with AMD cards, for the sounds of the article, but seems to work fine with my 670. Looks pretty good, although when its around her shoulders there is a gap and it makes it look like lara has an invisible barrier on her body. lol

    tbh i think its excellent! although it is amazing how silky smooth her hair is after diving face first into a pool of rancid polluted water!
    i played this for about an hour, this isn't the normal type of game i like, but i wanted to test this out.

    on my PC it switches back and forth between 30, 45, and 60 fps with "high" settings + tressfx and high precision.

    tressfx looks amazing =3
    I just finished tomb raider on my 680gtx (my titan and waterblock comes monday), the game is buggy no matter what you do at least on my nvidia gpu, unless you turn settings down to high, still get some crashes but much less. Hair tressx had no effect one way or other on crashes on mine.

    I played mostly with settings maxed on ultimate, and hair tressfx enabled. On ultimate though, AA is set on FXAA by default, everything else is maxed (im on 1920x1200). I typically ranged form 45-55 fps. With AA on 2x SSA or 4x SSA I lost about 8 FPS and 15 FPS respectively, so I stayed on ultimate default, which is everything maxed except AA.

    But game crashed every 10-15 minutes, windowed or fullscreen did not help me, though some claimed it helped. I tried 3 different drivers, many fixes, nothing helped. The game is just buggy. Others who had AMD gpu cards also complained about crashes, but much less. Recent game update did not help at all. When I got stuck at a bug, I would turn everything down to high, get through bug, then turn everything back to ultimate.

    My rant on a different forum about tomb raider 2013.
    FYI:: it's buggy as hell with 13.1 drivers

    the hair is all erratic and bounces everywhere. looks completely like a game bug vs what those screen shot show.
    I've had my code sitting in my email since Feb 27th and have yet to download it. Due to no Internet. Gonna go to my sisters house today and download it.
    Whoops, AMD accidentally gave me an already-activated code...turns out I'm not downloading Tomb Raider presently. I'll let you know when it's straightened out and I have a chance to try it. :salute:

    EDIT - Bansaku, no one has said you need a 7000 series GPU to enable the feature. In fact, in the article, I mentioned NVIDIA was having performance problems with the game, which I thought by implication meant NVIDIA cards can enable the feature without issue. :shrug:
    AMD can hype up TressFX all they want, but let it be known, you DO NOT need a Radeon 7000 series gpu to enable the feature; my GTX 660 Ti renders TressFX just fine. :P