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| GDC 2016

The Game Developer Conference 2016 (GDC16) was held March 14-18 in the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This is the most important event for game developers, and even though it gets incredibly busy, it’s the one I look forward to the most every year. Like previous years, myself and many of my colleagues attended. AMD and our partners covered different topics in GDC presentations, and here is some information on the sessions presented.

Advanced Graphics Techniques Tutorial Day

Like every year, AMD and NVIDIA presented a joint all-day tutorial session on Monday, 14 March. This tutorial focused quite a bit on DirectX® 12 so game developers interested in learning more about explicit APIs and DirectX 12 in particular should definitely attend this tutorial. This collaboration is a rare opportunity to hear advice recommended by both GPU hardware vendors. The tutorial has the following sessions:

Practical DirectX 12 – Programming Model and Hardware Capabilities

This session is presented by both AMD and NVIDIA speakers. It provides an overview of the API programming model, and includes programming recommendations to get the best out of it. AMD and NVIDIA don’t always agree on everything and the preparations for this particular session can sometimes be “interesting” but I’m pleased to say we usually do a good job on showing a united front on most recommendations. Any AMD or NVIDIA-specific recommendation will be labelled as such.

Rendering ‘Hitman’ with DirectX 12

The Hitman is striking again – just in time for GDC. 16 years after his first appearance, he’s still on the cutting edge of technology – this year, using Direct3D 12. Jonas from IO Interactive  covers the advances made for the latest installment of Hitman and explain how IO beefed up the engine to take advantage of explicit APIs.

Developing the Northlight Engine: Lessons Learned

Quantum Break is a game with an enormous vision. Remedy graphics programmer Ville Timonen describes how the Northlight engine fulfills this vision, and how Remedy was able to improve rendering efficiency of the engine via optimal use of the DirectX API.

Culling at the Speed of Light in Tiled Shading and How to Manage Explicit Multi-GPU

This session is presented by NVIDIA and proposes a new technique for fast culling of tiles. It also offers useful advice on how to deal with multiple GPUs.

Object Space Rendering in DirectX 12

Graphics programmer guru Dan Baker describes object space rendering, a REYES-style technique used in the Nitrous engine that powers the PC title Ashes of the Singularity. DirectX 12 has the ability to render a lot more draw calls than previous PC graphics APIs; we will see how this capability (among others) is leveraged to implement this rendering method with great efficiency. This session is probably one of the sessions I looked forward to the most due to its potential for a new shift in future real-time graphics rendering techniques.

Advanced Techniques and Optimization of HDR Color Pipelines

FXAA author Timothy Lottes is serious about image quality (just trust me on this!). With HDR/EDR displays about to become mainstream it is important that game developers understand what this means for their engine’s color pipeline. Timothy presented a number of techniques and optimizations that will prove useful to developers aiming to add HDR display support to their games.

SessionSpeakersRoomDay/TimeLink
Practical DirectX 12 – Programming Model and Hardware CapabilitiesGareth Thomas (AMD), Alex Dunn (NVIDIA)#135
North Hall
Monday
10.00-11.00
PDF
Rendering ‘Hitman’ with DirectX 12Jonas Meyer (IO)#135
North Hall
Monday
11.20-11.50
Register
Developing the Northlight Engine: Lessons LearnedVille Timonen (Remedy Games)#135
North Hall
Monday
11.50-12.20
Register
Culling at the Speed of Light in Tiled Shading and How to Manage Explicit Multi-GPUDmitry Zdhan (NVIDIA), Juha Sjoholm (NVIDIA)#135
North Hall
Monday
13.20-14.20
Register
Object Space Rendering in DirectX 12Dan Baker (Oxide)#135
North Hall
Monday
14.40-15.40
Register
Advanced Techniques and Optimization of HDR Color PipelinesTimothy Lottes (AMD)#135
North Hall
Monday
16.00-17.00
PDF

2016 is the Year of Explicit APIs (Direct3D 12 and Vulkan™)

D3D12 & Vulkan: Lessons Learned

One of this year’s highlights was a session on the lessons learned from the first wave of Vulkan™– and DirectX 12–based games. Hosted by AMD’s Matthaeus Chajdas, this presentation will show you how these new low-level APIs have served in recent titles and what game developers can take away from those experiences. If you’re a developer working on DirectX 12 or Vulkan code you will want to see this.

Right on Queue – Advanced DirectX12 Programming

Developer Technology Engineer Stephan Hodes and Driver Architect Dave Oldcorn unite to present a very informative session on how to optimally manage DIRECT, COMPUTE and COPY queues in DirectX 12 for maximum efficiency. Ideal scenarios for leveraging concurrent execution on those queues will be covered. Dan Baker of Oxide fame will make a guest appearance to explain how the Nitrous engine is able to achieve up to 30% extra performance via the use of asynchronous compute in the DirectX 12 API.

Let your Game Shine – Optimizing DirectX 12 and Vulkan Performance with AMD CodeXL

Explicit APIs Direct3D 12 and Vulkan can be difficult to develop for, especially with few graphics tools currently supporting them. This session detailed the support for those new APIs that AMD added to the CodeXL suite of developer tools.

Vulkan fast paths

AMD held a dedicated session on the brand new API from Khronos: Vulkan. This presentation will enable game developers to go straight to the most efficient ways to drive the API, in particular from a GCN-based hardware perspective.

DirectX 12 Advancements

Microsoft principal development lead Max McMullen has been the public face of the DirectX 12 API for quite some time now. Max’s session should prove very valuable for any developer wishing to get up to speed with this new API.

Practical Development for Vulkan

Our friends at Valve, Unity and Croteam also presented on Vulkan in their session.

SessionSpeakersRoomDay/TimeLink
D3D12 & Vulkan: Lessons LearnedMatthaeus Chajdas (AMD)#3016
West Hall
Thursday
10.00-11.00
PDF
Right on Queue: Advanced DirectX 12 programmingStephan Hodes (AMD), Dave Oldcorn (AMD), Dan Baker (Oxide)#2024 West HallWednesday
9.30-10.30
PDF
Let your Game Shine – Optimizing DirectX 12 and Vulkan Performance with AMD CodeXLDoron Ofek (AMD)#2024 West HallWednesday
11.00-12.00
PDF
Vulkan Fast PathsGraham Sellers (AMD), Timothy Lottes (AMD), Matthaeus Chajdas (AMD)#2024 West HallWednesday
12.30-13.30
PDF
DirectX 12 AdvancementsMax McMullen (Microsoft)#2009 West HallWednesday
12.30-13.30
Register
Practical Development for VulkanDan Ginsburg (Valve), Dean Sekulic (Croteam), Baldur Karlsson (Unity)#3009 West HallThursday
12.45-13.45
Register

Other Sessions

LiquidVR™ Today and Tomorrow

GDC 2016 included a session on LiquidVR that will describe the current features of the SDK (currently available on the GPUOpen website) and its future. This session is part of the brand new VRDC (Virtual Reality Developer Conference) that was held on Monday and Tuesday at GDC.

Multiplatform GPU Ray-Tracing Solutions With FireRender and FireRays

Fast OpenCL compute capabilities are essential for GPU-based ray-tracing solutions to be viable for interactive rendering and previsualization purposes. AMD describes how Firerays and Firerender leverage the performance of the GPU to achieve these purposes.

GPUOpen – Unlocking Game Development with Open Source

This session covers the GPUOpen philosophy, its current contents and some of the new stuff we’re adding in future updates. The session will include guest speaker Jean-Normand Bucci from Eidos Montreal who will talk about how source code access to TressFX was key to implement the innovative features of PureHair, the hair rendering technology used in several Eidos titles.

Business Development 101 – a primer on working with the Platforms from the people who built them

Industry veterans Chris Donahue and Ritche Corpus give a business-oriented talk that will prove interesting for game developers looking to get their games noticed.

Optimizing the Graphics Pipeline With Compute

Graham Wihlidal of Frostbite fame has a great presentation that will undoubtedly appeal to graphics engineers who want to maximize the performance of their graphics engine! He presents the result of his research into using the compute pipeline to cull geometry prior to it being sent to the graphics pipeline. Do not miss it.

SessionSpeakersRoomDay/TimeLink
LiquidVR Today and TomorrowGuennadi Riguer (AMD)#2011 West HallTuesday
10.00-11.00
PDF
Multiplatform GPU Ray-Tracing Solutions With FireRender and FireRaysTakahiro Harada (AMD), Dmitry Kozlov (AMD)#2024 West HallWednesday
14.00-15.00
PDF
GPUOpen – Unlocking Game Development with Open SourceNicolas Thibieroz (AMD), Jason Stewart (AMD), Jean-Normand Bucci (Eidos Montreal) + others#2024 West HallWednesday
3.30-4.30
PDF
Business Development 101 – A Primer on Working with the Platforms From the People who Built ThemChris Donahue (AMD), Ritche Corpus (AMD)#2024 West HallWednesday
17.00-18.00
Register
Optimizing the Graphics Pipeline With ComputeGraham Wihlidal (Frostbite)#2002 West HallFriday
10.00-11.00
Register

AMD sessions held on Wednesday in room #2024 included a raffle for a chance to win a brand new AMD GPU!

To find out more about GDC, visit the conference website or check out AMD’s guide to conference sessions and other proceedings. A lot of interesting content this year so make sure to mark the date!