AMD TressFX gives Lara Croft realistic hair

Last week, AMD teased the press with TressFX, a new graphics technology that would purportedly "re-energize your tired locks with vitality and luster." The "Render. Rinse. Repeat." tagline provided another not-so-subtle hint, convincing us TressFX incorporated some new physics-based hair rendering wizardry. Turns out we were right. Check out Lara Croft's new 'do:

AMD's Game Blog has a short preview of TressFX Hair, which is claimed to be the "world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game." That game, of course, is the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Developer Crystal Dynamics worked with AMD to create the hair simulation engine, which relies on DirectCompute for the real-time physics calculations necessary to make Lara's locks more luscious.

TressFX Hair models the behavior of individual strands of hair as they react to external forces like wind, gravity, and the movement of the heroine's head. Collision detection prevents those strands from passing through each other, and the hair becomes heavy and matted in the rain. Individual strands even reflect light.

Although Lara has what appears to be the same loose pony tail in all of AMD's promo shots, TressFX Hair is supposed to support multiple styles. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any video of the technology in action. The stills still look great, though, and I'm particularly fond of the comparison shot above. TressFX's more realistic hair gives Lara a certain vulnerability. Plus, she just looks more attractive—with no gratuitous cleavage involved, I might add.

AMD says Graphics Core Next-based Radeons are "particularly well-equipped to handle" TressFX Hair simulation. However, the blog post stops short of revealing what sort of horsepower you'll need to enjoy the feature in Tomb Raider. The game is due out March 5, so we shouldn't have to wait too long find out. And, because this is a DirectCompute-based solution, it should work on GeForce cards.

I suspect there's more to come, too. The AMD blog page refers to this new tech as TressFX Hair, opening the door for other effects to join the family.

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