AMD is Investing Heavily Into VR
When Sasa took the stage to talk about VR, my ears perked up. VR is an exciting space not just the medium itself - putting on a VR headset and being transported to new worlds and new experiences - but the push on hardware. VR is going to require much more horsepower than is available to GPUs right now, something that won't stop for years to come.
AMD is fully aware of something it calls the 'Pursuit of Presence' and not breaking that.
The company is also aware that it requires photorealism in VR before you get to "full presence". Shaders help current titles look great, but then we have immersive 2D displays like Eyefinity setups. Physically based rendering is another big leap, and then we have VR. VR isn't going to be an instant shift, as we're going to need a major injection of new graphics or 'photorealism' before we are fully immersed, or achieve 'full presence'.
In order to get that full presence, AMD knows that we need to have scalable CPUs, GPUs, and accelerators. We will also need to have our sight and sound senses fully used, as well as other sensors like smell, and touch. These technologies are a little way off yet, but they won't be too far away from being fully realized once VR makes its big splash later this year.
Don't Break the Presence!
When you're in the VR world, there will be nothing worse than breaking presence. The easiest way to explain this to current gamers would be to take the control out of your hands, or have your frame rate dip below 30FPS. This makes you suddenly become aware that you're playing a game, instead of being fully immersed into the title in front of your eyes.
AMD is aware of this, and has its #1 rule of "do not break the presence", where it wants to begin achieving this using motion-to-photon latency, and getting that as low as possible.
Comfort and presence in VR are the two most important things, with AMD addressing that with its system, above.
This is something that has been known about for a few months now, but AMD explained it in much more detail as well as surprising the crowd with some embargoed information.
AMD's Liquid VR SDK 1.0 platform is already on its way, with efficient GPU head tracking, which minimizes latency and stuttering thanks to asynchronous shaders (which we'll get to in a minute), multi-GPU technology which will again "reduce latency and increases content quality with multiple GPUs", and then direct-to-display that will provide a super-easy plug-and-play VR experience.
When it comes to the GPU-based head tracking, AMD is using its GCN architecture to "ensure [the] most up-to-date head tracking inputs are used for VR rendering and image/time warp". This will also pave the way for better efficiency between your CPU and GPU.
One of the more exciting technologies that AMD talked about were asynchronous shaders for VR, something that will minimize latency, stuttering, and judder when playing VR games. AMD's asynchronous shaders use Asynchronous Compute Engines (ACEs) in the GCN architecture that will execute VR image processing in parallel with the rendering of the image itself.
Multiple GPUs Will Be Put to Good Use With VR
Right now, there isn't much use having multiple GPUs, unless you're pushing past 4K. Then we have the issue of scaling in current games, which isn't all that great. We get excited to get 20-30% scaling these days, and ecstatic to receive 50% or above scaling. We should be seeing near 100% scaling, and this is where Liquid VR will come into play with multiple GPUs.
As you can see from the slide, each GPU can be render to a particular eye (or 'screen') on a dual-screen based VR headset, such as the HTC (and Valve) Vive, or the current Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype. AMD says that there will be 'easy integration into game engines by a simple GPU Mask and transfer command' and that this solution will reduce latency, unlike current AFR (Alternative Frame Rendering) multi-GPU solutions.
AMD is in full support of direct-to-display when it comes to VR, so instead of your PC rendering it on your screen and then duplicating it to your VR headset, the VR render can be pushed directly to your VR headset.
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