Ogre Progress Report: March 2015

This is dark_sylinc writing again! Wanna know what we’ve been up to? Well, here it comes:

1. Improved shadow mapping quality. The PCF code I used was some snippet I had lying around since 2008. I now finally sat down and implemented better approaches.

Before:

After (same quality):

After (highest quality):

You can look in the forum thread for more information. Some community members have also posted more snippets with different filters. Some of these other filters may be provided out of the box eventually.

 

2. Hot reloading of Hlms shader templates: This has been supported for a while, but never publicly mentioned and the microcode cache could get in the way. This is very useful for more productive development, iteration, and debugging of Hlms shader files. In the samples, hit Ctrl+F1 to reload the PBS shaders and Ctrl+F2 to reload the Unlit shaders.

 

3. Fixed lots, lots and lots of D3D11 errors: Back in the previous report, we’ve described that DX11 had been ported. But there were still crashes lingering around, low level materials weren’t working, lots of texturing and mipmapping errors, huge memory leaks, and many other misc. errors. We’re happy and proud to say they’ve been fixed. There’s probably a few more bugs around waiting to be discovered and fixed…just like everything else.

 

4. Ogre 2.1 tested on Intel cards! I’ve only tested on an Intel HD 4600 so far and for GL3+ to work you will need the very latest drivers. Intel’s D3D11 support has always been significantly superior, and Ogre is no exception to that rule. If you intend to target the Intel market share of GPUs, shipping with D3D11 is a requirement.
Note: Remember that for other vendors, GL3+ can improve performance significantly over D3D11 as well! Don’t assume one particular API is superior for everybody!

 

Aside from these features, we’ve been fixing bugs, improving stability, improving documentation and tweaking the engine based on community feedback (thank you guys!). Ogre 2.1 keeps getting better every day.

Two community members made an awesome forum post where they took our PBS shaders and modified them to get a similar look to Marmoset Toolbag 2 (a non-Ogre-related 3rd-party tool for editing physically based materials). We’re looking forward into evaluating their improvements and integrating them into Ogre 2.1. We believe that the interoperability with industry-standard 3rd party tools such as Marmoset is key for the future of Ogre. You’ll probably hear from us about this in the next report, or the next to that one.

Well, that’s all for now. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to my cave 🙂 …

Ogre Progress Report: February 2015

This is dark_sylinc writing again…and: Oh boy! We’ve been busy!

1. Light list generation for forward lighting was threaded. Turns out, we were spending a lot of time building the light list when there are tons of objects on screen. Frame time was reduced from 10 ms to 4.5 ms on my Intel i5-4460 for 50k draws (AMD Radeon HD 7770).

2. Ported DX11! It’s not as thoroughly tested as the GL3+ RenderSystem, so I’d stick with GL3+ if you want stability. But it’s booting up, it can take advantage of most of the AZDO enhancements, and all the samples are running. Performance benchmarks against GL3+ are inconsistent: It highly depends on the driver (different cards, different bench results) and some samples run better on GL3+ others on D3D11, but often only by a slight margin.

Since the samples are GPU bottlenecked, my theory is that it depends on how well the driver compiles and optimizes the GLSL shader versus how well the driver optimizes and reinterprets the HLSL IL that the D3D runtime throws at the driver.

Now cards that are supposed to be supported but were not due to driver issues (i. e. Radeon HD 2000 through Radeon HD 4000) are now being supported! Intel cards weren’t tested, but in theory they should be supported too. Feedback is appreciated in this area (both Windows, Linux, and D3D vs. OpenGL).

GL to the left, D3D to the right. The FPS difference isn't relevant and can go either way.

GL to the left, D3D to the right. The FPS difference isn’t relevant and can go either way.

 

3. We’ve been working on an experimental branch with a new technique called “Forward3D“. Sounds exciting but it’s not really ground breaking.

I don’t want to use deferred shading as default because it causes a lot of problems (transparency, antialiasing, multiple BDRF). Besides, it uses a lot of bandwidth. Forward+/Forward2.5 is great, but requires DX11 HW (needs UAV) and a Z-Prepass. This Z-prepass is often a turn off for many (even though in some cases it may improve performance, i.e. if you’re heavily pixel shader or ROP [= raster operation] bound).

I came up with an original idea for a new algorithm I call “Forward3D“. It’s not superior on all accounts, but it can work on DX10 hardware and doesn’t require a Z-prepass. The light list generation algorithm is now being generated in the CPU, however I think it should be able to run on Compute Shaders on DX10 hardware just fine (though, I don’t know yet if generating the light list is expensive enough; it may not even be worth doing on CS or perhaps it will).

The result is a nice generic algorithm that can run on a lot of hardware and can handle a lot of lights. Whether it performs better or worse than Deferred or Forward+ depends on the scene.

These are early screenshots. The algorithm has actually improved since then (particularly for bigger lights, it can handle a lot more lights now):

Forward3D in action. Many small lights = OK. Few big lights = OK. Many bigger lights = Not ok.

With bigger lights they start getting LOD’ed as a side effect of how the algorithm works

 

4. The community seems to be eager to compare how Ogre 2.1 fares against commercial engines. Remember that Ogre is a rendering engine while most of these engines are game engines (which means they provide much more than graphics, like physics, sounds, logic, scripting and level editors). Nonetheless Ogre seems to be doing very well!

We highly appreciate the faith you put in us!

5. Reported two Linux driver bugs to AMD. AMD has already confirmed that they will be including a fix for one of their bugs in the next Linux release. Their engineers are still working on the second bug, which has been much harder to isolate.

6. Merged all changes from:

  • 1.9 → 1.10
  • 1.9 & 1.10 → 2.0
  • 1.9 & 1.10 & 2.0 → 2.1

Now, all enhancements that were made to 1.10 (particular to RenderSystems) are available in 2.0 as well. We still recommend that on 2.0 you stick to D3D9 though, since it’s the fastest and most stable one. On 2.1 we recommend GL3+, but you’re now encouraged to also try out the D3D11 RS as well.

7. Fixed tons of bugs as they’ve been reported or been found.

Well. There’s a lot of work that remains to be done. Ogre3D is well and alive! I’m /signing off for now.

Ogre 2.1 now publicly available (previously dubbed AZDO branch)

Hi everybody! It’s me, Matias aka dark_sylinc!

Time to give a progress report:
At the time that I  am writing these lines, I am making the final preparations for publicly releasing the AZDO branch aka “Ogre 2.1” (still unnamed as of yet). This doesn’t mean it’s ready / finished, but rather that it becomes public, as there has been a lot of development that has been done behind closed doors.

The relevant pull-request and merge can be found here: Ogre v2-1 branch creation / pull-request
The new branch itself is here: Ogre v2-1 branch

You can also follow my current ToDo list on my trello board.

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Ogre 2.0 RC1 announcement

Good news! We have officially added the v2-0-0RC1 tag to the Ogre repository (commit) indicating that we reached our first Release Candidate milestone for Ogre 2.0!

Our original plan was to tag this release as “CTP” (Community Technology Preview) and the upcoming AZDO (Approaching Zero Driver Overhead) improvements as “final”. However this proved to be very confusing for the community and in fact presented two practical concerns:

  1. v2-0-0RC1 is actually very stable and relatively easy to port to when coming from Ogre 1.9 or Ogre 1.10 (= current unstable default branch). The external API interface is quite similar, with performance benefits from efficient frustum culling and scene graph management (plus it’s multi-threaded). Several users in the community had already started porting to it.
  2. The AZDO branch was going to be labelled as “final”. Even though being quite impressive feature- and performance-wise, it is not complete, cannot be considered stable, and is far from actually being final. Furthermore, porting from Ogre 1.9 or even from Ogre 2.0-RC1 to the AZDO branch is not a trivial task as the external API changes are considerable.

Therefore we concluded that:

  1. The “CTP” branch will be released as Ogre 2.0 and is a good stepping stone for projects that require better performance without the high risk associated with porting when there are big engine changes.
  2. The “AZDO” branch will be released as Ogre 2.1 at some point in the future. External interface changes are quite significant and porting to this version requires more work and inherently results in more risk.

Our main focus of development will be on Ogre 2.1. We will only be providing basic bug fixes for Ogre 2.0 to be able to dedicate more resources to Ogre 2.1.

Note: While more and more focus will shift to Ogre 2.x, we will not immediately abandon Ogre 1.x. In fact, there is still at least one release in the making (Ogre 1.10). Once we have a more concrete timeline for it, we will announce the details.

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