2014-07-17

2048 Point Lights @ 60 FPS

Today I released an update to my engine. The most prominent feature
is Forward+ aka Tiled Forward rendering. To my knowledge, no other
open source engine implements it.

Forward+ dates back to 2012 and is used in several AAA games like DiRT Showdown, Ryse (partially) and The Order: 1886. Its main advantages are support for MSAA, transparency and multiple BRDFs. The algorithm works by culling lights against a screen-space grid where cells are for example 16x16 pixels. It stores a per-tile list of light indices that are then used in shading. Culling is done with a compute shader and it uses depth texture to get each tile's extents. My engine does a depth-pass in any case, because it's needed for SSAO etc.

The implementation I did is based on AMD's ForwardPlus11 sample (can't find the link anymore). However, the sample is D3D11 and uses deprecated D3DX libs, but my implementation also supports OpenGL 4.3. I was able to render 2048 point lights at 60 FPS in Sponza scene on my year-old MacBook Pro. All the surfaces use Cook-Torrance with normal maps.

If you want to implement it yourself or just test it, you can download my engine. Here's some API mappings from HLSL to GLSL:
gl_WorkGroupID: SV_GroupID
gl_LocalInvocationID: SV_GroupThreadID
gl_GlobalInvocationID: SV_DispatchThreadID
uintBitsToFloat(): asfloat()
floatBitsToUint(): asuint()



Here's some useful links:
http://www.cse.chalmers.se/~olaolss/main_frame.php?contents=publications
http://aras-p.info/blog/2012/03/27/tiled-forward-shading-links/
http://diaryofagraphicsprogrammer.blogspot.fi/2012/04/tile-based-deferred-and-forward.html
http://articles.pjblewis.com/
http://focus.gscept.com/2014ip19/

So, what's next for Aether3D? I'll add spot lights soon and for the next release my focus will be in fixing open bugs and adding unit tests and support for CMake. I'm also planning to dogfood my engine this year by making a simple first-person game. Also, I'm working on an editor in Qt and C++. I'll blog more about them when they are more mature.