Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has long been a staple in the games industry. Their GPUs and CPUs power millions of PCs, PS4s and Xbox Ones around the world, and will power many more devices for years to come. With technology advancing at a staggering pace, AMD continues to deliver updates and support for all its technologies. At GDC 2018, we got to sit down with AMD to go over their plans for the future and when we may get to see them implemented in upcoming games.
First up is the Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) 1.2, which brings integrated frame debugging and profiling, barrier reason codes, and improved frame overview. The big news coming out of this announcement, however, is the inclusion of interoperability between RGP and RenderDoc. Developers are able to generate also generate RGP profiles from RenderDoc replays, select events in RGP and view them in RenderDoc or vice versa. This provides them with a proficient workflow for debugging.
AMD’s other big announcement is real-time Ray Tracing. The company has been investing and developing the tech for years, and is finally ready to talk about it. Currently, developers have two options when developing models: rasterization and Ray Tracing. Rasterization is the faster method that uses algorithms to approximate the appearance of objects, surfaces and textures. While it gets the job done, the results aren’t as realistic as Ray Tracing, which maps light rays from each pixel to realistically simulate light interactions. The results are amazing, but it’s processor intensive.
AMD’s solution is to add Radeon ProRender support for real-time GPU acceleration of ray tracing techniques mixed with traditional rasterization based rendering. Developers can choose how much of each technique they want in their particular model, helping them control their performance budget. In theory, this can help game developers achieve a greater degree of photorealism without sacrificing performance. In practice, we may still be a ways off from implementation.
Speaking with AMD, the team confirmed that you’ll need high-end hardware that, as of now, isn’t priced for the mainstream market. Initially, expect to isolated effects use this technique in-game. Shadows and reflections are where we’ll begin to see it pop up until more powerful hardware becomes mainstream.
AMD is planning for the future and the future looks photorealistic indeed. While real-time Ray Tracing may be a while off, the company continues to work with game developers to bring out the best possible effects in their games. Their most current work can be seen in Far Cry 5 where they worked hand-in-hand with Ubisoft Montreal on the game’s stunning water. They’re doing fantastic work and it looks like it will only get better from here on out.