Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Software Claims to Render Unlimited 3D Details

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 61 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.

unlimited detail

Discuss
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 22, 2010 11:17 PM
    Morgan3rdVoxel based rendering has been around for years, it just isn't as efficient as rasterization, or as accurate as ray tracing. You can call it the future of computing, but its still a red headed stepchild.


    Pretty much. Wasn't there just an article a few months ago about Epic rendering an character through voxels, but admitting they couldn't get shading and animation properly done?

    As said, Voxels aren't new, just doesn't afford the customisation and abilities that current rendering tech does. The future will mostly likely be a hybrid bastard child of Rasterization, Voxels, and Raytracing. Or something.
  • 10 Hide
    Morgan3rd , April 22, 2010 11:08 PM
    Voxel based rendering has been around for years, it just isn't as efficient as rasterization, or as accurate as ray tracing. You can call it the future of computing, but its still a red headed stepchild.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    dogofwars , April 22, 2010 11:08 PM
    Wow ;) 
  • Display all 61 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    Morgan3rd , April 22, 2010 11:08 PM
    Voxel based rendering has been around for years, it just isn't as efficient as rasterization, or as accurate as ray tracing. You can call it the future of computing, but its still a red headed stepchild.
  • 0 Hide
    UbeRveLT , April 22, 2010 11:08 PM
    It seems like an excellent idea, though obviously, advances like this take time to mature and evolve into a successfully competing technology.
  • 4 Hide
    greatsaltedone , April 22, 2010 11:13 PM
    what a fascinating idea. obviously it's not very sophisticated now, but when you apply physics to voxels, it completely changes the whole concept. moving objects by affecting the force of each particle that makes the object up and then calculating their affect on other particles as well as each other is the true power here
  • 8 Hide
    mianmian , April 22, 2010 11:14 PM
    Skeptical...
  • -6 Hide
    xurwin , April 22, 2010 11:15 PM
    dogofwarsWow

    all i can say is ^
  • 13 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 22, 2010 11:17 PM
    Morgan3rdVoxel based rendering has been around for years, it just isn't as efficient as rasterization, or as accurate as ray tracing. You can call it the future of computing, but its still a red headed stepchild.


    Pretty much. Wasn't there just an article a few months ago about Epic rendering an character through voxels, but admitting they couldn't get shading and animation properly done?

    As said, Voxels aren't new, just doesn't afford the customisation and abilities that current rendering tech does. The future will mostly likely be a hybrid bastard child of Rasterization, Voxels, and Raytracing. Or something.
  • 0 Hide
    blazeorangeman , April 22, 2010 11:19 PM
    Makes complete, logical sense to me - where can I buy stock in your company?
  • 0 Hide
    chaosgs , April 22, 2010 11:29 PM
    blazeorangemanMakes complete, logical sense to me - where can I buy stock in your company?


    Me2, i would love to buy stock in a company that AMD or Nvidia would pay Billions for if it shows just the slightest amount of progress.
  • 7 Hide
    ksenter , April 22, 2010 11:34 PM
    He actually says "our algorithm is vastly different to voxels" at 7:28
  • 1 Hide
    allyourbase , April 22, 2010 11:42 PM
    this guy will either end up extremely rich or absolutely nothing. either way, he's caught at least my interest.
  • 0 Hide
    micky_lund , April 22, 2010 11:45 PM
    "there's been some great demonstrations by ATI, sgi, and EVEN nVidia"
    lol
  • 0 Hide
    Emperus , April 22, 2010 11:49 PM
    So this is not a new rendering concept.. As for the voxel calculations, i think they can become more sophisticated then the pixel or even polygon calculations.. However, the level of detail that they might generate is surely something worth looking for.. The current claims of hyper realistic detail levels and the ability to render unlimited graphics ( mot frames ) is not properly clear.. I mean a render engine draws the scene with details as specified.. Is this software meant to create detail levels on its own..!!
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2010 11:55 PM
    Call me crazy but didnt toms do a review on voxels or something similar??
    I remember the conclusion more or less being that there is just no good and easy way to dynamically modify all the render tree thingys yet so its really only useful for static ground stuff.

    Also, the unlimited thing is sort of misleading, I think. The video says "you obviously cant have an unlimited number of polygons" or something similar. True, thats why you only render the important triangles.

    They only render 1 voxel per pixel and the rest are ignored. It's kind of like the hardware tessellation feature which makes more triangles when you get closer. I have a feeling this tessellation could eliminate the model swap problem the video makes a big deal out of on those old games.

    I will be really impressed when some of the obvious shortcommings are fixed, like a video showing off crazy dynamic lighting, and dynamic destructible stuff.

    After typing this, I see Kelavarus already mentioned what I was talking about
  • 0 Hide
    victomofreality , April 22, 2010 11:56 PM
    This will be awesome if it's true... just going to have to wait and see.
  • 2 Hide
    matt87_50 , April 23, 2010 12:01 AM
    still, good on him. always good to see people trying new things. pushing tech that has just been brushed over and disregarded, who knows, maybe they missed something. sounds far-fetched atm, but so did many other breakthroughs.

    also, its not that big a deal switching from polygons to voxels, as you say, voxels are just 3D pixels, all you'd have to do is "render" the poly mesh to voxels...

    another thing. ok, so yeah, it wouldn't be unlimited, you could only have as many points as you could fit into memory, and you would need alot of memory, but keep in mind, its not the AMOUNT of memory at the moment that's the bottle neck. its memory BANDWIDTH, so even if you have to have 32GB of memory, if his search algorithm is really good, he would only really need enough memory bandwidth to pull one screen worth of pixels out every frame! and say you were doing it as cloud based gaming (like that thing where it renders on a server somewhere and then streams the result to any really underpowered device) if you were doing that, you could just have one level loaded into ram that could serve EVERY PLAYER IN THAT LEVEL. they could all search the same level in ram! limited use of memory bandwidth is more important that use of memory capacity at the moment.
  • 0 Hide
    darkguset , April 23, 2010 12:02 AM
    It looks like DX11's tessellation, with 16-bit colours though. It looks more like an upgraded Nintedo rather than a high end screen, lol.
    The ideal solution would be what Kevalarus suggested. A mix of all best things technology has to offer for an optimum result of image quality and speed.
  • 0 Hide
    omnimodis78 , April 23, 2010 12:02 AM
    Fascinating! Wouldn't this sort of turn the whole gaming industry upside down? Would this be all CPU coded or would it require a dedicated type of GPU (similar to say, physix, or EAX for audio)? More details would be awesome.
  • 2 Hide
    matt87_50 , April 23, 2010 12:05 AM
    ChaosGSMe2, i would love to buy stock in a company that AMD or Nvidia would pay Billions for if it shows just the slightest amount of progress.


    remember when creative bought that little company that was working on true 3D audio simulation for games? (consider it raytracing for games)

    they bought it just so they could destroy it so that their crummy by comparison EAX tech would remain supreme. still, good for the share holders I'm sure. just bad for progress and the rest of us :( 
  • 1 Hide
    spoofedpacket , April 23, 2010 12:11 AM
    omnimodis78Fascinating! Wouldn't this sort of turn the whole gaming industry upside down? Would this be all CPU coded or would it require a dedicated type of GPU (similar to say, physix, or EAX for audio)? More details would be awesome.


    Yes, indeed it would. But this story has the typical signs of a pile of BS. The companies who get exposed as frauds or disappear after making big statements are also the same ones who are "tight lipped" about providing even the most basic information on how their stuff works.
Display more comments