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Software Claims to Render Unlimited 3D Details

By - Source: Tom's Hardware UK | B 8 comments

Could this new technology be the next step in the evolution of graphics rendering?

32-year-old Bruce Dell of Australia is claiming that his new software will render unlimited, hyper-realistic graphics without the use of polygons. If his claims are true, this new technology could spark the next evolution in gaming, repeating the changeover last seen in the 1990's when polygons replaced pixels.

Called Unlimited Detail, the software doesn't require special hardware, suggesting that the entire process can run off a single-core CPU. In fact, Dell said that the software will render graphics on anything from a PC to a mobile phone without the need for a GPU.

The software works by acting like a search engine, digging through trillions of voxels--the 3D counterpart to pixels--in a cloud to quickly render a scene. "We can build enormous worlds with huge numbers of points, then compress them down to be very small," he explains on the software's website. "The Unlimited Detail engine works out which direction the camera is facing, and then searches the data to find only the points it needs to put on the screen."

Dell added that the software doesn't access unneeded voxels, and that if the screen is set to 1024 x 768, then the software only grabs that exact number of points--one for each pixel on the screen.

Currently Dell is working on forming an actual company as well as putting together an SDK. However Nvidia has already tossed in its opinion of the new technology, saying that voxels have issues with shading and coloring images properly. The GPU company even points to the images provided by Dell, stating that none of the objects look all that realistic.

Wired reports that Nvidia is also skeptical about the Unlimited Detail claims of rendering graphics in real-time using only a single-core processor, and no GPU. This would mean that a machine would need huge amounts of RAM, and at the moment, Dell is remaining tight-lipped about how the software deals with the rendering.

Could this be a farce, or could Unlimited Detail be a legitimate evolution in graphics rendering? If it is, there will need to be more parties involved than just Dell. “There have to be SDKs, tools and drivers, and these are things that teams of people from many different companies come together to create," Nvidia said.

Software developers such as Adobe, Autodesk, and Maya would also have to jump the polygon ship as well, a big change that could actually stall the industry's overall acceptance of Unlimited Detail... if its legitimate.

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  • 3 Hide
    darraghcoy , 23 April 2010 07:35
    Ah this again... Was wondering when they'd start stirring up some hype within the industry about it; they're making some quite big claims. :) 

    This all sounds curiously like ID's SVO (Sparse Voxel Octree) tech to me, but using software rendering instead. It also looks like they are doing some sort of object instancing, instead of having one big set of voxels for the world like ID were talking about. Anybody think likewise?

    Also, I wonder how fast this technique would be if ported to GPU? Or do their algorithms & data-structures prevent them from getting sufficient performance in a GPGPU context?

    I think there's genuine merit in these new voxel based rendering approaches; we're getting to a stage now where polygons are so small (highly detailed models) that they are almost pixel sized at all but close up distances. If that is the case it's probably more efficient to go with voxels rather than the overhead of a rasterizer; polygons are only efficient when they are more than a few pixels big.

    Also there's still a few problems that need to be ironed out with voxel based approaches- animation being the biggest one. Then there's transparency as well..

    One wonders where all this is going next, are we going to completely go down the voxel route, or will tesellation (DX11+) along with displacement maps become the next big thing? Probably a mixture of approaches is most likely.. Tessellation for animated figures and voxels for static geometry- that would make sense. One thing is certain though- games ARE going to look stunning with all this new tech on the way!

    I really wish they would release a binary demo though so we could actually see it in action on a real machine- it would do a lot to substantiate their claims. Also a good artist or too wouldn't hurt- the artwork in those demos is dreadful, tech aside. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    gtx1924 , 23 April 2010 07:49
    Unlimited Detail was explained in a very LIMITED amount of time...no time to really evaluate its legitimacy
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 23 April 2010 13:42
    sounds a lot like point clouds, which are already used in industry?
  • 0 Hide
    evilgenius134 , 23 April 2010 14:20
    Show me it with anti-aliasing and decent high-res textures and i'll support it. At the moment, although it has shown unlimited detail it hasn't shown it actually looking good and its worthless saying how much detail you can put it if it looks horrific.
  • 1 Hide
    ksampanna , 23 April 2010 16:37
    It's natural for Nvidia to be sceptical. If the software does come off, Nvidia's out of business. So is ATI, & I'm worried about the latter ...
  • -4 Hide
    roots , 23 April 2010 19:08
    What a crock of shit!
  • 0 Hide
    N19h7M4r3 , 24 April 2010 02:02
    if it works, its genious...
  • 1 Hide
    dcepalewis , 26 April 2010 16:32
    If I was a Director of Google I'd be in VERY deep discussion with this guy, despite his very unfortunate surname! Imagine, the mayhem they could cause if this is genuine? And wouldn't it REALLY piss off their competitors?! This operating in "the Cloud" or part of Google OS would really be something, nevermind as a standalone program.