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Crossbar
02-01-2006, 09:28 AM
We touched on the subject of procedural syntehisis and graphics in the "blue-ray disc" thread http://forums.e-mpire.com/showthread.php?t=50984&highlight=procedural+graphics
cpiasminc dismissed procedural graphics as of little importance for content size on the blu ray disc, maybe that's correct, but what about content size in system memory?
I did some archeology on the topic and found out that Ken Kutaragi was deep in to this shit back in 1998.

One generational leap on which Sony is focusing, Kutaragi said, is synthesis of "'emotion' in characters rendered in real-time." To date, animators have been charged the task of imbuing game characters with an admittedly limited emotional range. Sony's "dream is to automate the process and synthesize it in real-time on a game platform."

A technique known as motion capture is commonly used today to capture and sample a character's motion data. But rendering a range of expression in real-time would "take huge computational power," said Kutaragi.

One way to realize such functionality is to develop algorithms that describe a character's behavior, he explained. "Once an algorithm [exists] that allows an image of a cat to behave like a cat, for example, real-time image rendering gets a lot easier."
http://www.eetimes.com/news/98/1017news/microsoft.html

His intention was obviosly to implement it for the PS2 and Sony had some collaboration with VM Labs to do this, someone can maybe fill me in about the result of this.

In the PS3 there is a component called the Cell and another one called the Reality Synthesizer (RSX). Obviously Ken is continuing to work a long the same lines for PS3. Sony have a collaboration with PixeLux Entertainment:

Digital Molecular Matter - Game Asset Synthesis Technology

To address the problem of skyrocketing video game production costs, Pixelux Entertainment has created a unique real-time physical simulation technology called Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) that will greatly reduce the cost of creating video games.

DMM achieves this by automating the most expensive part of the video game production process - art asset generation.

By utilizing DMM technology, a game studio can save thousands of hours of artist and animator effort, as well as create art assets and games not possible to do before.

DMM provides:

Multiple game assets automatically derived from a single archetype
Ability to manipulate assets while highly compressed
Automated Level of Detail Generation
Integrated Physics with Material Destructibility and Fracture
Soft-body or "floppy" Materials
DMM Pipeline allows Assets to be generated in real-time or offline
Implicit use of 3D Shader Hardware
Tools to integrate into existing Asset Production Pipelines
Ability to utilize multiprocessor hardware

http://www.pixeluxentertainment.com/index.php?link=technology
...and SpeedTree, the Speedtree technology has been licensed for the U3-engine among others.

SpeedTreeCAD ― A versatile, completely user-configurable procedural tree modeling package that differs from all others by focusing on efficient offline and real-time rendering, SpeedTreeCAD allows modelers to edit and preview wind physics, and it automatically computes seamless LOD models all the way down to a billboard, as well as creating composite maps that include 360 ° billboard images. SpeedTreeCAD is not currently offered as a standalone product but is an integral part of SpeedTreeMAX and SpeedTreeRT.

SpeedTreeMAX ― A 3ds max plug-in, SpeedTreeMAX delivers unprecedented realism and outstanding animation and efficiency to architects, animators and others who require the highest standards in offline foliage. More info.

SpeedTreeRT ― Emerging since its debut in 2003 as the gold standard in real-time foliage, this C++ class reads tree models, handles all wind computations, manages all LOD transitions (including LOD cross fades without needing to sort!), and provides all rendering data to your engine in the format of vertex buffers. Full licensees get source code and SpeedTreeRT’s outstanding support. A free, fully-functional evaluation version is available, and a variety of downloadable real-time demos have been created to show off the SDK’s incredible power.
http://www.speedtree.com/

A way to implement procedural graphics on the cell is described here:

The Playstation 3's CPU, the Cell, contains 8 independent vector processing units called SPEs. The SPEs each have 256K of directly attached memory, and can "stream" data to eachother, with each SPE performing a different operation on a large set of data and passing it, thus creating a highly efficient chain which performs a sequence of operations on a data set of arbitrary size (see stream processing for more details). In the context of procedural synthesis, each SPE can execute a different task in the procedural synthesis algorithm (to return to our tree example, a task might be to generate the trunk, another to add branches, another to add leaves, another to properly color the various parts of the tree) and pass the result on to another SPE which does the next peice of work. The cell can thus generate game objects very quickly by dividing the algorithm into smaller tasks and setting up a chain of SPEs to do the work on an arbitrarily large number of objects. Unlike the Xenon, the Cell does not support "cache locking" to buffer the generated objects. This would be redundant, however, as there is a direct 35 GB/s link between the Cell and the PS3's "Reality Synthesizer" graphics processing unit, allowing objects to be sent directly to the GPU to be rendered as soon as they are generated.
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=4n7fhj2e92meh?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Procedural+synthesis&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&sbid=lc04a

There is also a description of procedural textures here:
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Procedural+texture&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&linktext=Procedural%20texture

It seems like procedural synthesis will be an essential technolgy for the PS3. But how important is it? Will we see the result in the games right from the start or will it take several years before we see some real benfits?
Obviously games based on the Unreal 3 engine will use some of it, but to which degree, will we see a difference?

Mr. Coww
02-01-2006, 09:36 AM
Having the softwarehardware to do such and using the tools to make it run are 2 diffrent things. Lets just hope some one takes the time to use them.

Crossbar
02-01-2006, 11:56 AM
Having the softwarehardware to do such and using the tools to make it run are 2 diffrent things. Lets just hope some one takes the time to use them.
Very true, and a fool with a tool is still a fool, but having a tool is a good start and there are quite few clever programmers out there.

But the interesting part is how much will this affect the look of the games. I think some of the PS2 games are just amazing considering they are running on just about 32 MB RAM. Will the PS3 be able to do things even more efficiently by using procedural synthesis to a larger degree?

Crossbar
02-01-2006, 02:05 PM
Here's a good article on how procedural synthesis is realised on the 360.

http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/cpu/xbox360-1.ars/2

I have strong feeling that I have read an interview with an Nvidia person or maybe Kutaragi who discussed procedural graphics on the RSX and some earlier use of it at nvidia, but I have not been able to find it. If someone has a clue of which one I mean and could post a link I will give some kind of reward in return. :-)

BruceWayneIII
02-01-2006, 09:27 PM
Here's a good article on how procedural synthesis is realised on the 360.

http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/cpu/xbox360-1.ars/2

I have strong feeling that I have read an interview with an Nvidia person or maybe Kutaragi who discussed procedural graphics on the RSX and some earlier use of it at nvidia, but I have not been able to find it. If someone has a clue of which one I mean and could post a link I will give some kind of reward in return. :-)

Thank you for that link.

This is exactly what Sony (and IBM) has been talking about when presenting the Cell. The automated generation of vertex data is something the Cell is extremely good at.

I'll try to find more information on this from the Cell community.