Tomb Raider features the world's first real-time hair rendering technology.
AMD, in partnership with Square Enix studio Crystal Dynamics, is determined to end the era of "totally unrealistic hair" in video games. Yes, we're serious. As AMD explains, we've all been duped in the 3D era by short haircuts, updos, and even non-removable helmets, all of which are attempts to disguise the problem of unrealistic hair. Oh, the outrage! Fear not, fellow gamers, AMD's "TressFX Hair" technology signals an end to those hideous hair days.
All jesting aside, the result of AMD's efforts is more realistic looking hair. It's achieved by utilizing DirectCompute to perform real-time physics simulations for TressFX Hair. It's already featured on Lara Croft in the 2013 release of Tomb Raider.
"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," AMD explains in a blog post. "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. 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."
DirectCompute isn't exclusive to AMD, and as such, the technology works on any DirectX 11 graphics card. Of course, AMD believes its own hardware is best suited, pointing out that cards featuring the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture are particularly well-equipped for these kinds of tasks because of fast on-chip shared memory and massive processing throughput. Nevertheless, if Nvidia wanted to, it could also support TressFX Hair.