16X ANISOTROPIC FILTERING

There are many graphics options a PC gamer needs to be aware of. Anti-aliasing & anisotropic filtering, to name two, are nothing short of essential for gaming. Others, while perhaps not mandatory, nonetheless noticeably improve image chất lượng, thus making graphics much more appealing khổng lồ the player. Last but not least, there are some effects that apply lớn very specific parts of the image, for instance a main character’s hair or animals’ fur.

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We have sầu already discussed anti-aliasing techniques, including the differences in image quality and their impact on performance, & thus the final framerate. This article focuses on other graphics options, such as anisotropic filtering (AF), screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO) & different hair/fur effects.

Anisotropic filtering (AF)

It goes without saying that all gamers have at some point had khổng lồ put up with blurred textures, which are the result of mipmaps, or duplicates of original textures, but pre-rendered at different (lower) resolutions so that a GPU can choose the most applicable one depending on the specific surface that requires texturing. Original textures are simply too expensive sầu performance-wise to lớn be unconditionally reused in a scene. Unfortunately, using mipmaps requires additional filtering to remove sầu image artifacts.

The most primitive sầu of these techniques are bilinear và trilinear filtering. Bilinear filtering uses four samples from a single mipmaps khổng lồ calculate a texel’s (a pixel of a texture) final color. Because of that, it isn’t computationally expensive but the image quality that this method provides is far from satisfactory. Trilinear filtering improves a little by using samples from the two closest mipmap sizes to calculate the texel. However, this technique still suffers from unique loss when textures — most commonly ground and road textures — are viewed at extreme angles.

To prevent this from happening, anisotropic filtering scales either the mipmap’s height or width by a ratio relative sầu khổng lồ the distortion of the specific texture. The anisotropy levels run from 1 lớn 16, each defining the degree lớn which mipmaps can be scaled by. Of course, higher levels will have sầu a higher performance impact, but the image chất lượng is incomparably better in comparison with bilinear/trilinear filtering.

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Screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO)

SSAO efficiently approximates the ambient occlusion effect in real time. It was developed by Vladimir Kajalin of Crytek & was used for the first time in Crysis, a Crytek Clip game released in 2007. The advantage AO has over traditional shadowing is that it accounts for the occlusion of light và thus creates shadows that lover the scene additional depth.

Basic SSAO is typically rendered at half-resolution and uses 16 occlusion samples per px. Unfortunately, rendering at reduced resolutions usually causes unwanted flickering that is very difficult to lớn hide in all situations. That is why SSAO+, an improvement over SSAO, is rendered at native resolution. However, this change drives GPU cost up nearly fourfold, making SSAO+ a very demanding AO method. Because of that, further versions of SSAO were introduced. The first was HBAO, which rendered at full resolution but uses only 4 samples per pixel, making it a pretty fast solution. HBAO+ improves with 36 samples per px, enabling more accurate shadowing while being only two times slower than HBAO. Another technique, HDAO, is optimized specifically for AMD GPUs, but is used in games much less frequently than HBAO.

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Hair effects

These effects are quite different than AF & SSAO, as they are applied specifically khổng lồ hair và, sometimes, animals’ fur. There are two major solutions on the market: TressFX và HairWorks. Both provide pretty decent visuals — that is, they deliver accurate hair simulation that reacts lớn different weather conditions. The most important difference is that HairWorks relies mostly on tessellation, so it may turn in a lower performance on GPUs older than Polaris (RX series).

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Test Setup

ProcessorHãng Intel Chip Core i7-7700K

Anisotropic filtering is a very useful technique that basically eliminates blurred textures at certain camera angles. The differences between different anisotropy levels are easily noticeable, as each one provides visibly better unique than the last. The 16x mode is perhaps the lone exception — it’s quite difficult lớn actually see any kind of improvement over 8x in most situations.

 

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 Interactive sầu comparisons – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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Interactive sầu comparisons – Crysis 3

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Interactive sầu comparisons – Tomb Raider

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Performance-wise, AF isn’t too computationally expensive. In the games we tested, framerate dropped by from 2 khổng lồ 7%, a barely perceptible difference. Of course, it also depends on certain GPU and driver optimizations, but you should still expect similar results. It’s hard khổng lồ imagine a situation where you shouldn’t use anisotropic filtering as it dramatically improves image chất lượng without compromising performance. Just stichồng to 8x and 16x anisotropy levels & enjoy sharp, clearly visible textures at all camera angles.

Screen space ambient occlusion – image unique và performance

There is no doubt that screen space ambient occlusion significantly improves shadowing unique. Enabling this option enhances the accuracy of shadows so the entire scene looks more appealing và realistic lớn the bạn.

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Interactive comparisons – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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Interactive sầu comparisons – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Performance results are a mixed bag here: some games are equipped with highly optimized SSAOs while others are much more demanding in terms of GPU power. With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, enabling HBAO+ causes performance hits of a barely perceptible 7%. Splinter Cell: Blackdanh mục is a vastly different case, as certain SSAO settings hit performance — clobber it, actually — by 50%. Of course, SSAO+ is the slowest method and should be avoided. HBAO+ is much faster thanks to lớn the algorithm optimizations involved. If HBAO+ is still too slow for you, just stiông chồng to lớn basic HBAO as it still provides great image chất lượng and is the fasthử nghiệm method available. Also, give sầu HDAO a try when it’s available–it’s optimized specifically for AMD Radeon graphics cards.

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Hair effects – image unique and performance

The usefulness of hair effects is an open question as they affect very specific parts of an image và are quite burdensome for performance. After all, significantly improving hair quality makes for a complex operation, but the framerate drop is nothing less than drastic in most cases.

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Interactive sầu comparison – Tomb Raider

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Interactive comparisons – Call of Duty: Ghosts

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Interactive sầu comparisons – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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TressFX, available in Tomb Raider, hits performance by as much as 23 %, causing stuttering và the animation to lớn be much less fluid. In simulating hair, HairWorks is a little less demanding, as evidenced by Điện thoại tư vấn of Duty: Ghosts và The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where the performance drop rises only lớn 14%. Again, though, older GPU owners should remember that tessellation is a major factor here.

Another interesting thing is that framerate drop depends on the distance between simulated objects & the camera. For instance, when Riley (the dog in Ghosts) gets really cthảm bại to the main character, the performance hit can jump to lớn nearly 50%, which obviously diminishes the gameplay.

Final takeaway: Remember that hair effects require a very svào graphics thẻ. If maintaining strong performance enabling fluid animation with no stutter is the goal, you may have khổng lồ reduce overall image unique.