TressFX 4.1: AMD Releases Update for Its Hair Rendering and Simulation Technology

Image: Crystal Dynamics

If you’re a fan of Crystal Dynamics’s 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider, TressFX should definitely ring a bell. This was the first title that utilized AMD’s then-novel rendering and simulation technology, which leveraged the power of Radeon GPUs to produce lifelike hair that reacts realistically to wind and other physical forces.

AMD is continuing its support of TressFX with the release of version 4.1 today, an update that improves upon previous iterations by further optimizing the library’s physics simulation shaders. It also adds new rendering features, documentation, and tutorials, as well as an updated TressFX Exporter for Autodesk Maya.

Additionally, TressFX 4.1 includes integration with Unreal Engine (4.22), one of the world’s most popular suites for game development. AMD warns that the level of integration is “minimal,” but it should make TressFX easier to work with in Unreal Engine’s UI. Developers can also customize it further to fit their needs.

TressFX features

  • Hair and fur support, designed for high quality anti-aliasing
  • Animation/skinning support
  • Unreal Engine (4.22) integration
  • TressFX/Cauldron implementation (source code)
  • Maya plugin provided for hair/fur and collision authoring
  • Source code provided

New in TressFX 4.1

  • TressFX/Unreal engine integration (patch under Epic Games Unreal GitHub repository) with multiple components, rendering and simulation material support
  • TressFX/Cauldron implementation with source code (DirectX® 12 and Vulkan®)
  • Optimized physics simulation shaders can allow more hair to be simulated in real-time
  • New rendering features (StrandUV and Hair Parameter Blending)
  • New Level of Detail (LOD) system
  • Documentation and tutorials
  • Updated Maya Exporter with new UI and new features/error checking

Prerequisites

  • AMD Radeon™ GCN-based GPU (HD 7000 series or newer) or AMD Radeon™ RDNA-based GPU (5000 series or newer) or other DirectX® 11/12 compatible discrete GPU with Shader Model 5 support
  • 64-bit Windows 10
  • Visual Studio 2017 or equivalent recommended

Aside from Tomb Raider, the only other game that utilized TressFX was 2016’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While interest in the technology appears to have waned, the library is, at the very least, alive and well.

NVIDIA has its own hair physics technology called HairWorks. This variant proved to be a little more popular than AMD’s offering, having been utilized in significant hits such as Far Cry 4 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

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