AMD has unveiled its TressFX hair rendering technology by sing Lara Croft's filthy mane in Tomb Raider as an example of how it works.
The tech was revealed over on the AMD blog, and stated the need for better hair tech, "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."
The blog showed a few comparisons between standard Tomb Raider gameplay and TressFX-enhanced play. Here's one for starters:
The post continued, "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."
It's seriously all Greek to me, but it looks rather brilliant. The hair also responds to gravity, wind and other environmental facets convincingly and should go a long way in creating more believable avatars moving forward. Check out the full post for a full run-down of the science behind TressFX.