One of the reasons virtual reality (VR) technology has struggled in the past and is now seeing a resurgence is the computational demand put on GPU’s to render images for both eyes. With the GPU having to do almost twice the work to render a VR videogame over a traditional one, constraints and limitations have to be put in place. This ensures that a VR title will run smoothly and keeps its sense of presence. To help reduce demand on the GPU, companies are developing various methods to improve effects like lighting in VR videogames without having a negative impact on frame rates. Geomerics (part of the ARM Group) has created global illumination software, Enlighten to improve the lighting effects in a VR scene without having that negative impact.
In a recent blog posting on Geomerics.com, various aspects of VR and the complexities in developing videogames for head-mounted displays (HMDs) were discussed. As the posting continues onto Enlighten, it explains how the lighting software generally runs via the CPU: “Enlighten works by taking the location of static geometry, or surface to surface visibility of the static geometry in the scene, precomputes it and compresses the data to be used at runtime. The Enlighten runtime then uses the precomputed data to compute the Enlighten output in real time. The Enlighten output changes depending on both the configuration of the lights and on the diffuse colours of the surfaces in the scene, information for which is provided by the game engine.”
“The game engine renderer runs on the GPU while the Enlighten runtime usually runs on the CPU. Enlighten does however, give you options to allocate the location of computation.”
Geomerics has showcased a few VR lighting demos at the recent Gamescom event in Germany, and the technology has been used on some of the latest videogame titles, including Battlefield 3 and 4, Need for Speed Rivals, Eve Online, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
Developments like Enlighten should enable studios to create more aesthetically interesting environments, adding to VR’s appeal in the long run. VRFocus will continue to report on the latest news on VR as new details are announced.