Peek inside the 3DMark Speed Way graphics engine

March 24, 2022

3DMark Speed Way benchmark

We're at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. GDC is one of the biggest industry events of the year and a great place to learn about the latest developments in game design and technology.

We're giving game developers at GDC a preview of the graphics technology in 3DMark Speed Way, our upcoming DirectX 12 Ultimate benchmark for gaming PCs.

Here on our website, you too can learn more about the real-time rendering techniques in 3DMark Speed Way that will power the next generation of gaming experiences.

Real-time global illumination

Global illumination is a technique in 3D graphics for simulating indirect lighting in a scene. Indirect lighting refers to light that bounces off one surface onto another. Imagine sunlight shining through a window onto a red wall. The direct light hitting the red wall causes indirect red light to bounce onto other surfaces and objects in the room. 

Traditionally, the calculations required for global illumination have been too demanding to perform in real-time. Game developers have worked around this limitation by pre-calculating the indirect lighting for static geometry and storing the result in light-field probes or a pre-baked lightmap. 

3DMark Speed Way uses DirectX Raytracing to calculate global illumination in real time. It gives the scene a more natural, realistic look by dynamically updating the global illumination in every frame and applying it to every object in the scene, including moving objects.

The comparison below shows how real-time global illumination improves the lighting in the scene. Drag the slider to compare the image with and without the technique.

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Real-time ray-traced reflections

Rendering accurate reflections in real-time is challenging. There are many limitations to the existing methods, which are fast, but inaccurate. 

Real-time ray tracing brings a new level of realism to in-game graphics. With DirectX Raytracing, we can render accurate real-time reflections of dynamic objects and produce reflections of objects that exist outside of the main camera view.

Reflections are not just for mirrors and chrome. They make other surfaces look more realistic too. Using ray tracing, we can produce accurate, perspective-correct reflections on all surfaces in real-time.

3DMark Speed Way uses DirectX Raytracing to calculate accurate reflections in real time. The comparison below shows how ray-traced reflections enhance the scene. Drag the slider to compare the image with and without reflections.

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Physically Based Rendering

Physically Based Rendering (PBR) is a standard technique used in all modern game engines. PBR aims to produce realistic images by modeling the behavior of light in the real world. 

The core idea of physically based rendering is to use intuitive parameters to model a wide range of real-world materials. These parameters are based on physical attributes such as albedo (color), roughness, metallic, luminance and other characteristics. By varying the values of these parameters, PBR can accurately model how light interacts with metals, plastics, ceramics, rock, wood, cloth and other materials. The physical underpinning of PBR means that these materials look and behave realistically under all lighting conditions. 

3DMark Speed Way uses physically based rendering to create a range of realistic materials. Drag the slider to compare the image with and without the materials.

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Performance optimization with Mesh Shaders

In 3D graphics, a mesh is the set of vertices, edges and faces that define the shape of an object. In current graphics pipelines, all geometry data in a mesh must be processed sequentially before further steps can be taken. 

Mesh Shaders are a new feature in DirectX 12 Ultimate that streamlines the rendering pipeline to improve flexibility and performance. Mesh shaders replace the old approach with a new model that can process small sections of a mesh, called meshlets, in parallel with a much greater degree of flexibility and control.

3DMark Speed Way uses Mesh Shaders to optimize the Level of Detail (LOD) for each cluster in a mesh and to efficiently cull geometry that is not visible to the camera or occluded by other objects. Drag the slider to see a visualization of the meshlets that make up each object in the scene.

Left image: Rendered image | Right image: Meshlet visualization

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Coming soon!

3DMark Speed Way will be available later this year. Check back soon for more details.