A Glimpse Of The Future!

At last week's Game Developer Conference, nVidia was seen sneak-previewing their soon-to-be-released (March 26) graphics technology. While the cards may well be prohibitively expensive at launch, the nature of technology is such that within the next few years we may very well see this kind of performance on most video cards. The clip below shows a demonstration of real-time hair rendering:

That, my friends, is the future of prim hair. 18,000 prim hair, to be exact :) No, LL has not announced any specific plans to support that many prims, but this is exactly the sort of thing we'll see in a few years (assuming those Mayan chaps weren't right and things don't all end horribly before then).

For those with a more technical interest, I'd like to point out what happens as they zoom out from the head of hair - the frame rate increases substantially. What's happening is something called "tessellation" which will likely be a popular buzzword in the realm of graphics over the next couple years. DirectX 11 (and DirectX 11 compatible video cards, like ATI's Radeon HD5xxx series) have been calling the feature out, not only because it's remarkable technology but because it was something only they offered. In a nutshell, tessellation lets the graphics card reduce the complexity of a 3D object as it gets further away. Lower complexity means fewer triangles to calculate and render, and ultimately better performance and faster frame rates. It's worth pointing out that at last week's show, the OpenGL standards group also announced their OpenGL 4.0 standard (which will likely eventually be incorporated into SL), which also supports tessellation. Fascinating.