Entries for tag "microsoft", ordered from most recent. Entry count: 4.
# Why Not Use Heterogeneous Multi-GPU?
There was an interesting discussion recently on one Slack channel about using integrated GPU (iGPU) together with discrete GPU (dGPU). Many sound ideas were said there, so I think it's worth writing them down. But because I probably never blogged about multi-GPU before, few words of introduction first:
The idea to use multiple GPUs in one program is not new, but not very widespread either. In old graphics APIs like Direct3D 11 it wasn't easy to implement. Doing it right in a complex game often involved engaging driver engineers from the GPU manufacturer (like AMD, NVIDIA) or using custom vendor extensions (like AMD GPU Services - see for example Explicit Crossfire API).
New generation of graphics APIs – Direct3D 12 and Vulkan – are lower level, give more direct access to the hardware. This includes the possibility to implement multi-GPU support on your own. There are two modes of operation. If the GPUs are identical (e.g. two graphics cards of the same model plugged to the motherboard), you can use them as one device object. In D3D12 you then index them as Node 0, Node 1, ... and specify
NodeMask bit mask when allocating GPU memory, submitting commands and doing all sorts of GPU things. Similarly, in Vulkan you have VK_KHR_device_group extension available that allows you to create one logical device object that will use multiple physical devices.
But this post is about heterogeneous/asymmetric multi-GPU, where there are two different GPUs installed in the system, e.g. one integrated with the CPU and one discrete. A common example is a laptop with "switchable graphics", which may have an Intel CPU with their integrated “HD” graphics plus a NVIDIA GPU. There may even be two different GPUs from the same manufacturer! My new laptop (ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DY) has AMD Radeon Vega 8 + Radeon RX 560X. Another example is a desktop PC with CPU-integrated graphics and a discrete graphics card installed. Such combination may still be used by a single app, but to do that, you must create and use two separate Device objects. But whether you could, doesn't mean you should…
First question is: Are there games that support this technique? Probably few… There is just one example I heard of: Ashes of the Singularity by Oxide Games, and it was many years ago, when DX12 was still fresh. Other than that, there are mostly tech demos, e.g. "WITCH CHAPTER 0 [cry]" by Square Enix as described on DirectX Developer Blog (also 5 years old).
iGPU typically has lower computational power than dGPU. It could accelerate some pieces of computations needed each frame. One idea is to hand over the already rendered 3D scene to the iGPU so it can finish it with screen-space postprocessing effects and present it, which sounds even better if the display is connected to iGPU. Another option is to accelerate some computations, like occlusion culling, particles, or water simulation. There are some excellent learning materials about this technique. The best one I can think of is: Multi-Adapter with Integrated and Discrete GPUs by Allen Hux (Intel), GDC 2020.
However, there are many drawbacks of this technique, which were discussed in the Slack chat I mentioned:
Conclusion: Supporting heterogeneous multi-GPU in a game engine sounds like an interesting technical challenge, but better think twice before doing it in a production code.
BTW If you just want to use just one GPU and worry about the selection of the right one, see my old post: Switchable graphics versus D3D11 adapters.
# Secrets of Direct3D 12: Resource Alignment
In the new graphics APIs - Direct3D 12 and Vulkan - creation of resources (textures and buffers) is a multi-step process. You need to allocate some memory and place your resource in it. In D3D12 there is a convenient function
ID3D12Device::CreateCommittedResource that lets you do it in one go, allocating the resource with its own, implicit memory heap, but it's recommended to allocate bigger memory blocks and place multiple resources in them using
When placing a resource in the memory, you need to know and respect its required size and alignment. Size is basically the number of bytes that the resource needs. Alignment is a power-of-two number which the offset of the beginning of the resource must be multiply of (
offset % alignment == 0). I'm thinking about writing a separate article for beginners explaining the concept of memory alignment, but that's a separate topic...
Back to graphics, in Vulkan you first need to create your resource (e.g.
vkCreateBuffer) and then pass it to the function (e.g.
vkGetBufferMemoryRequirements) that will return required size of alignment of this resource (
alignment). In DirectX 12 it looks similar at first glance or even simpler, as it's enough to have a structure
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC describing the resource you will create to call
ID3D12Device::GetResourceAllocationInfo and get
D3D12_RESOURCE_ALLOCATION_INFO - a similar structure with
Alignment. I've described it briefly in my article Differences in memory management between Direct3D 12 and Vulkan.
But if you dig deeper, there is more to it. While using the mentioned function is enough to make your program working correctly, applying some additional knowledge may let you save some memory, so read on if you want to make your GPU memory allocator better. First interesting information is that alignments in D3D12, unlike in Vulkan, are really fixed constants, independent of a particular GPU or graphics driver that the user may have installed.
So, we have these constants and we also have a function to query for actual alignment. To make things even more complicated, structure
Alignment member, so you have one alignment on the input, another one on the output! Fortunately,
GetResourceAllocationInfo function allows to set
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC::Alignment to 0, which causes default alignment for the resource to be returned.
Now, let me introduce the concept of "small textures". It turns out that some textures can be aligned 4 KB and some MSAA textures can be aligned to 64 KB. They call this "small" alignment (as opposed to "default" alignment) and there are also constants for it:
|Texture||64 KB||4 KB|
|MSAA texture||4 MB||64 KB|
Using this smaller alignment allows to save some GPU memory that would otherwise be unused as padding between resources. Unfortunately, it's unavailable for buffers and available only for small textures, with a very convoluted definition of "small". The rules are hidden in the description of Alignment member of D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC structure:
GetResourceAllocationInfo calculate all this automatically and just return optimal alignment for a resource, like Vulkan function does? Possibly, but this is not what happens. You have to ask for it explicitly. When you pass
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC::Alignment = 0 on the input, you always get the default (larger) alignment on the output. Only when you set
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC::Alignment to the small alignment value, this function returns the same value if the small alignment has been "granted".
There are two ways to use it in practice. First one is to calculate the eligibility of a texture to use small alignment on your own and pass it to the function only when you know the texture fulfills the conditions. Second is to try the small alignment always. When it's not granted,
GetResourceAllocationInfo returns some values other than expected (in my test it's
Alignment = 64 KB and
SizeInBytes = 0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF). Then you should call it again with the default alignment. That's the method that Microsoft shows in their "Small Resources Sample". It looks good, but a problem with it is that calling this function with an alignment that is not accepted generates D3D12 Debug Layer error #721 CREATERESOURCE_INVALIDALIGNMENT. Or at least it used to, because on one of my machines the error no longer occurs. Maybe Microsoft fixed it in some recent update of Windows or Visual Studio / Windows SDK?
Here comes the last quirk of this whole D3D12 resource alignment topic: Alignment is applied to offset used in
CreatePlacedResource, which we understand as relative to the beginning of an
ID3D12Heap, but the heap itself has an alignment too!
D3D12_HEAP_DESC structure has
Alignment member. There is no equivalent of this in Vulkan. Documentation of D3D12_HEAP_DESC structure says it must be 64 KB or 4 MB. Whenever you predict you might create an MSAA textures in a heap, you must choose 4 MB. Otherwise, you can use 64 KB.
Thank you, Microsoft, for making this so complicated! ;) This article wouldn't be complete without the advertisement of open source library: D3D12 Memory Allocator (and similar Vulkan Memory Allocator), which automatically handles all this complexity. It also implements both ways of using small alignment, selectable using a preprocessor macro.
# Links to GDC 2020 Talks and More
March is an important time of year for game developers, as that's when Game Developers Conference (GDC) takes place - the most important conference of the industry. This year's edition has been cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic, just like all other events, or rather postponed to a later date. But many companies prepared their talks anyway. Surely, they had to submit their talks long time ago, plus any preparation, internal technical and legal reviews... The time spent on this shouldn't be wasted. That's why many of them shared their talks online as videos and/or slides. Below, I try to gather links to these materials with a full list of titles, with special focus on programming talks.
They organized multi-day "Virtual Talks" event presented on Twitch, with replays now available to watch and slides accessible on their website.
Monday, March 16
The 'Kine' Postmortem
Storytelling with Verbs: Integrating Gameplay and Narrative
Intrinsically Motivated Teams: The Manager's Toolbox
From 'Assassin's Creed' to 'The Dark Eye': The Importance of Themes
Representing LGBT+ Characters in Games: Two Case Studies
The Sound of Anthem
Is Your Game Cross-Platform Ready?
Forgiveness Mechanics: Reading Minds for Responsive Gameplay
Experimental AI Lightning Talk: Hyper Realistic Artificial Voices for Games
Tuesday, March 17
What to Write So People Buy: Selling Your Game Without Feeling Sleazy
Failure Workshop: FutureGrind: How To Make A 6-Month Game In Only 4.5 Years
Stress-Free Game Development: Powering Up Your Studio With DevOps
Baked in Accessibility: How Features Were Approached in 'Borderlands 3'
Matchmaking for Engagement: Lessons from 'Halo 5'
Forget CPI: Dynamic Mobile Marketing
Integrating Sound Healing Methodologies Into Your Workflow
From 0-1000: A Test Driven Approach to Tools Development
Overcoming Creative Block on 'Super Crush KO'
When Film, Games, and Theatre Collide
Wednesday, March 18
Bringing Replays to 'World of Tanks: Mercenaries'
Developing and Running Neural Audio in Constrained Environments
Mental Health State of the Industry: Past, Present & Future
Empathizing with Steam: How People Shop for Your Game
Scaling to 10 Concurrent Users: Online Infrastructure as an Indie
Crafting A Tiny Open World: 'A Short Hike' Postmortem
Indie Soapbox: UI design is fun!
Don't Ship a Product, Ship Value: Start Your Minimum Viable Product With a Solution
Day of the Devs: GDC Edition Direct
Independent Games Festival & Game Developers Choice Awards
Thursday, March 19
Machine Learning for Optimal Matchmaking
Skill Progression, Visual Attention, and Efficiently Getting Good at Esports
Making Your Game Influencer Ready: A Marketing Wishlist for Developers
How to Run Your Own Career Fair on a Tiny Budget
Making a Healthy Social Impact in Commercial Games
'Forza' Monthly: Live Streaming a Franchise
Aesthetic Driven Development: Choosing Your Art Before Making a Game
Reading the Rules of 'Baba Is You'
Friday, March 20
Beyond Games as a Service with Live Ops
Kill the Hero, Save the (Narrative) World
'Void Bastards' Art Style Origin Story
Writing Tools Faster: Design Decisions to Accelerate Tool Development
Face-to-Parameter Translation via Neural Network Renderer
The Forest Paths Method for Accessible Narrative Design
'Gears 5' Real-Time Character Dynamics
Stop & Think: Teaching Players About Media Manipulation in 'Headliner'
They organized "DirectX Developer Day" where they announced DirectX 12 Ultimate - a fancy name for the updated Direc3D 12_2 with new major features including DXR (Ray Tracing), Variable Rate Shading, and Mesh Shaders.
DXR 1.1 Inline Raytracing
Advanced Mesh Shaders
Reinventing the Geometry Pipeline: Mesh Shaders in DirectX 12
DirectX 12 Sampler Feedback
PIX on Windows
That's actually GPU Technology Conference (GTC) - a separate event. Their biggest announcement this month was probably DLSS 2.0.
RTX-Accelerated Hair Brought to Life with NVIDIA Iray
Material Interoperability Using MaterialX, Standard Surface, and MDL
The Future of GPU Raytracing
Visuals as a Service (VaaS): How Amazon and Others Create and Use Photoreal On-Demand Product Visuals with RTX Real-Time Raytracing and the Cloud
Next-Gen Rendering Technology at Pixar
New Features in OptiX 7
Production-Quality, Final-Frame Rendering on the GPU
Latest Advancements for Production Rendering with V-Ray GPU and Real-Time Raytracing with Project Lavina
Accelerated Light-Transport Simulation using Neural Networks
Bringing the Arnold Renderer to the GPU
Supercharging Adobe Dimension with RTX-Enabled GPU Raytracing
Sharing Physically Based Materials Between Renderers with MDL
Real-Time Ray-Traced Ambient Occlusion of Complex Scenes using Spatial Hashing
I also found some other videos on Google:
DLSS - Image Reconstruction for Real-time Rendering with Deep Learning
NVIDIA Vulkan Features Update – including Vulkan 1.2 and Ray Tracing
3D Deep Learning in Function Space
Unleash Computer Vision at the Edge with Jetson Nano and Always AI
Optimized Image Classification on the Cheap
Cisco and Patriot One Technologies Bring Machine Learning Projects from Imagination to Realization (Presented by Cisco)
AI @ The Network Edge
Animation, Segmentation, and Statistical Modeling of Biological Cells Using Microscopy Imaging and GPU Compute
Improving CNN Performance with Spatial Context
Weakly Supervised Training to Achieve 99% Accuracy for Retail Asset Protection
Combating Problems Like Asteroid Detection, Climate Change, Security, and Disaster Recovery with GPU-Accelerated AI
Condensa: A Programming System for DNN Model Compression
AI/ML with vGPU on Openstack or RHV Using Kubernetes
CTR Inference Optimization on GPU
NVIDIA Tools to Train, Build, and Deploy Intelligent Vision Applications at the Edge
Leveraging NVIDIA’s Technology for the Ultimate Industrial Autonomous Transport Robot
How to Create Generalizable AI?
Isaac Sim 2020 Deep Dive
But somehow I can't find their full list with links to them anywhere on their website. More talks are accessible after free registration on the event website.
Multi-Adapter with Integrated and Discrete GPUs
Optimizing World of Tanks*: from Laptops to High-End PCs
Intel® oneAPI Rendering Toolkit and its Application to Games
Intel® ISPC in Unreal Engine 4: A Peek Behind the Curtain
Variable Rate Shading with Depth of Field
For the Alliance! World of Warcraft and Intel discuss an Optimized Azeroth
Intel® Open Image Denoise in Blender - GDC 2020
Variable Rate Shading Tier 1 with Microsoft DirectX* 12 from Theory to Practice
Does Your Game's Performance Spark Joy? Profiling with Intel® Graphics Performance Analyzers
Boost CPU performance with Intel® VTune Profiler
DeepMotion | Optimize CPU Performance with Intel VTune Profiler
Google for Games Developer Summit 2020 @ YouTube (a collection of playlists)
Google for Games Developer Summit Keynote
What's new in Android game development tools
What's new in Android graphics optimization tools
Android memory tools and best practices
Deliver higher quality games on more devices
Google Play Asset Delivery for games: Product deep dive and case studies
Protect your game's integrity on Google Play
Accelerate your business growth with leading ad strategies
Firebase games SDK news
Cloud Firestore for Game Developers
Google for Games Developer Summit Keynote
Scaling globally with Game Servers and Agones (Google Games Dev Summit)
How to make multiplayer matchmaking easier and scalable with Open Match (Google Games Dev Summit)
Unity Game Simulation: Find the perfect balance with Unity and GCP (Google Games Dev Summit)
How Dragon Quest Walk handled millions of players using Cloud Spanner (Google Games Dev Summit)
Building gaming analytics online services with Google Cloud and Improbable (Google Games Dev Summit)
Google for Games Developer Summit Keynote
Bringing Destiny to Stadia: A postmortem (Google Games Dev Summit)
Stadia Games & Entertainment presents: Creating for content creators (Google Games Dev Summit)
Empowering game developers with Stadia R&D (Google Games Dev Summit)
Stadia Games & Entertainment presents: Keys to a great game pitch (Google Games Dev Summit)
Supercharging discoverability with Stadia (Google Games Dev Summit)
Online Game Technology Summit: Start-And-Discard: A Unified Workflow for Development and Live
Finding Space for Sound: Environmental Acoustics
Game Server Performance
NPC Voice Design
Machine Learning Summit: Ragdoll Motion Matching
Machine Learning, Physics Simulation, Kolmogorov Complexity, and Squishy Bunnies
AMD: No information.
Sony: No information.
Consoles: Last but not least, March 2020 was also the time when the details of the upcoming new generation of consoles have been announced - Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5. You can easily find information about them by searching the Internet, so I won't recommend any links.
If you know about any more GDC 2020 or other important talks related to programming that have been released recently, please contact me or leave a comment below and I will add them!
Maybe there a positive side of this pandemic? With GDC taking place, developers had to pay $1000+ entrance fee for the event. They had to book a flight to California and a hotel in San Francisco, which was prohibitively expensive for many. They had to apply for ESTA or a vista to the US, which not everyone could get. And the talks eventually landed behind a paywall, scoring even more money to the organizers. Now we can educate ourselves for free from the safety and convenience of our offices and homes.
# Upgrade to Windows 10 - My Story
I upgraded my system to Windows 10. Free upgrade is avaiable until July 28th for all genuine users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, so now it's high time to do it if you don't want to pay for it later. My upgrade went well, but not without problems. Here is my story:
First some basic information:
On my old Toshiba laptop with Windows 7, bought in 2011, the upgrade failed. The system is not broken though - Windows 7 still works. After the failure I checked manufacturer's website and found that there are no drivers for this model for any operating system newer than Windows 7, so it's good to stay this way.
On my new Lenovo laptop with Windows 8.1, bought in 2015, I was able to successfully perform the upgrade suggested by the system. All the devices work correctly. All installed programs and settings are also preserved.
On my PC, with most components bought in 2013, upgrade to Windows 10 also failed. I can remember fighting with this annoying upgrade window and deleting some system files few months ago, so that might be the reason. I was ready to format my system disk and install everything from scratch anyway, so here is what I did:
I could find drivers for Windows 10 for all my components and peripherals and they all work correctly (except only an old, little webcam - ModeCom MC-1.3M, but I don't use it anyway). I could also install all the programs that I need and they seem to work.
I recommend you to also get your free upgrade to Windows 10. I had an opportunity to work with this system a lot and I could say it's not that bad :) I know there are some arguments against the new Windows version, so let's look at them:
There are some advantages of the new Windows as well, especially compared to Windows 8.x. There is no Charms Bar and Hot Corners when you but your mouse cursor in the corner of the screen. Start Menu is back with just few tiles you can configure and the old good list of installed applications. (You can always get even more old-fashioned Start Menu by installing free app: Classic Shell).
But the most important is what's not visible to the naked eye. As a developer I know that a new operating system is not about new looks of buttons and menus or new Calc application, but mostly about new technologies under the hood. Some of them (like Direct3D 12 and WDDM 2.0, to name just these related to graphics) are available in Windows 10 only. Some applications and games will require them to work sooner or later. That's the reason I believe it's worth upgrading to Windows 10 as long as it's free.
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