NVIDIA A New Dawn DirectX 11 Demo

Benchmarks & Demo's 179 Updated by Hilbert Hagedoorn

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NVIDIA released the 'A new Dawn' technology demo. We have it available for download.

You can discuss this DX11 technology demo right here.

In A New Dawn, the demo starts not with the main character, but with a sweeping overview of a lush rainforest. Ferns gently sway in the moonlight, vines sprawl across an ancient tree, and budding flowers cast a gentle glow on the surrounding bark. As our character comes into view, we find her swinging on a vine in her new tree home. The tree is rendered to the finest level of detail using DirectX 11 tessellation. At its peak, over four million triangles are used to showcase Dawn's environment.  

Fast forward ten years, and NVIDIA has brought back Dawn once again, in a demo simply titled "A New Dawn". The original Dawn demo had many merits, but due to the limitations of hardware at the time, it also took many short cuts. One of the most obvious was the fact that Dawn didn't really have a home. Fairies, as we all know, live in the depth of mysterious forests, but for Dawn, her home was a giant glowing cube mapa six-sided texture that represented the environment around her. She had no trees to climb, no bees or butterflies to play with. She was a very lonely fairy.

Because hair is so thin, aliasing is a major problem. Traditional antialiasing doesn't work well here, as a strand is often smaller than a pixel and may not be picked up by any of the four-or-so sample points. To alleviate this problem, A New Dawn has a special hair smoothing shader that inspects each strand and blurs them in the combing direction. The final result looks soft and silky, as if she just jumped out of the shower after an extensive conditioner routine.

Dawn's skin has also received a complete overhaul. Human skin is one of the trickiest materials to simulate. Unlike a concrete object that only absorbs or transmits light, human skin is more akin to a block of jelly; light enters, jiggles around in multiple layers of skin and flesh, and exits in a new direction. The technique used to simulate this complex series of interactions is called sub-surface scattering.

The original Dawn demo used a very simple but effective technique to simulate one aspect of skin shading called rim lighting. It worked by isolating the silhouette of the character and letting light from behind the character bleed through, giving an illusion of translucent skin. This worked well for the silhouette when exposed to strong light, but was less convincing for other portions of the character.

A New Dawn uses a complex but efficient sub-surface scattering shader, first pioneered with the Luna demo introduced with the GeForce 7800 GTX. To smartly manage workload, the new skin shader dynamically selects the number of samples to filter, depending on how visible the surface is. Detail maps are used to capture fine hairs, bumps, and skin imperfections. Four independent textures describe the oil content of the skin.

  • GPU: GTX 670 or 680 (GTX 670 SLI, GTX 680 SLI, or GTX 690 recommended for Ultra mode)
  • CPU: 2.5GHz Dual-Core or higher
  • System Memory: 4GB
  • Disk Space: 2GB
  • Operating System: Windows 7 or Windows Vista

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