AMD Make the Case for Forward Rendering

It has been noted multiple times that graphics are important for virtual reality (VR) videogame experiences. Not just in terms of impressing VR users with amazing visuals, but also in terms of reducing the unfortunate side-effects such as motion sickness and dizziness experienced by some users. The team working at AMD feel that the time has come to change how graphics rendering works for VR.

Gilbert Leung, Technical Marketing Specialist at Radeon presented a short video displaying the advantages of a technique called Forward Rendering when applied to VR titles. Leung demonstrated how the new forward rendering technology can improve the VR experience by setting up two identical PC rigs, one running Robo Recall with traditional deferred rendering, while the other was running the same game with the new Forward Rendering path.

Deferred rendering works by first completing the complex geometry calculations before going back and shading the pixels. This is how many current VR games running on Unreal Engine 4 render the graphics. Forward rendering works by compromise, allowing developers much more choice in how the graphics are rendered for VR which allows for higher framerates, essential for VR experiences. The rig running forward rendering was running at 90fps, as opposed to the deferred rendering which was running at 60fps.

While deferred rendering can produce some impressive visuals, it does not tend to play well with others, creating problems when trying to apply post-process anti-aliasing techniques. Forward rendering enables those techniques to be applied, increasing graphical fidelity and improving the experience for VR users.

“AMD has been on a continuous mission to make VR accessible to as many people as possible, and Epic’s forward rendering path in Unreal Engine 4 is a big step in that journey,” said Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD. “Anyone who has experienced Epic’s Robo Recall will immediately attest to the benefit of forward rendering in VR. We are working with VR developers to explore the benefits of forward rendering, which can result in beautiful, high-performing games on Radeon graphics.”

You can watch the Forward Rendering demonstration video below.

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