The best virtual reality (VR) videogames aren’t just about the visual quality, developers know that to make an experience as immersive as possible it needs good audio to. Valve is very much aware of this having launched its Steam Audio SDK beta last year. Today, that beta takes another leap forward integrating AMD TrueAudio Next technology (TAN).
By adding TrueAudio Next technology Valve aims to deliver increased acoustic complexity and detail to VR content while significantly speeding up audio processing and improving overall performance. AMD’s TrueAudio Next has two high-level features to maximize audio performance on systems; AMD Resource Reservation which allows developers to reserve a portion of the GPU compute exclusively for audio processing, dedicating 20-25 percent of a GPU’s compute units to the task which can be enabled or disabled on a scene-by-scene basis.
The second feature comes in the form of GPU compute Convolution Algorithms. These enable developers to increase the acoustic complexity and detail in their videogames and VR applications using time-varying convolution reverb. Time-varying convolution reverb can model a wide range of acoustic phenomena, and leads to an increased sense of presence.
With these new additions developers will now have the option of increasing the number of audio sources, Ambisonics order for indirect sound and impulse response (IR) length whilst freeing up CPU resources so it can be applied to other tasks, like physics simulation or AI. This also means any sudden frame-rate drops and stuttering should be prevented as well as audio glitches.
Further information can be found on a Steam blog posting, where Valve goes into much greater detail, explaining: “Steam Audio’s support for TrueAudio Next does not in any way restrict Steam Audio to specific hardware or platforms. We hope that our support for TrueAudio Next encourages hardware and platform vendors to provide more options for developers to balance their audio workloads against graphics, physics, and other workloads, which in turn will help them create better audio experiences for their users.”
As Valve continues to improve Steam Audio, VRFocus will bring you the latest updates and improvements.