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, http://www.amd.com/us/press-releases/Pages/amd-kick-starts-2013feb04.aspx ] 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 www.amd.com/neversettlereloadedoffer 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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Discussion
  1. It wasn't even much of a consideration in rendering before Disney's Brave. There hasn't even been enough computing power before now to handle every strand of hair as its own entity, applying physics to each one. That's very computing intensive.
    I am surprised at how luxurious she can keep her hair whilst stranded on an uncharted island...
    I wonder if this tech could be easily translated to folliage(long grass, weeds, etc.) I would imagine that it would not be overly difficult. But I guess implementing it on that large of a scale is the real challenge...
    If they could scale it to every piece of ground foliage, tree leaves, ect. Would be pretty awesome, but I don't believe our comps could handle that much ATM.
    pwnmachine
    I am surprised at how luxurious she can keep her hair whilst stranded on an uncharted island...
    I wonder if this tech could be easily translated to folliage(long grass, weeds, etc.) I would imagine that it would not be overly difficult. But I guess implementing it on that large of a scale is the real challenge...

    Now that would be a good reason for a PhysX card. Heh, ironically based on how NVIDIA is doing in this game so far, you'd need an AMD dedicated physics card instead. :p
    I wonder if NVIDIA is starting to regret the decision to cripple compute performance on the non-workstation cards yet.
    Want to run TressFX? Choose either $400 HD7970 or $1000 TITAN... :rofl:
    hokiealumnus
    Now that would be a good reason for a PhysX card. Heh, ironically based on how NVIDIA is doing in this game so far, you'd need an AMD dedicated physics card instead. :p

    Now thats an idea, a dedicated TressFX card :p
    Imagine a game like Skyrim where all of the animals had silky smooth conditioned hair, it would be amazing :rofl:
    I just obtained a key for Tomb Raider from AMD. We'll see just how this performs on said TITAN currently, followed by an HD 7970. I should have time to do something with it this weekend/early next week. I'll report findings in this thread. :thup:
    I think this is a great start! I'm always excited to see anything that helps pull me into a game and I think the details that are often over looked do this. and this is one of those things.
    and while right now I'm sure this isn't able to be implemented on a large scale pwnmachine is right on it! it would be amazing too see grass, bushes, rope and possibly other objects benefit from tech like this.
    Janus67
    I would have thought they would focus on the physics of something else for Lara Croft instead of her hair.

    They kind of did neglect her in this one. She paid for the reduction from all the games we bought.
    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
    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:
    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.
    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.