AMD's Neural Block Compression Tech Is Coming To Save Gamers From Huge Downloads

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The download size of video games is getting out of hand. For a massive open world game with ten years of updates like GTA Online, 110 GB isn't out of the realm of possibility. When a first-person shooter like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is 235GB, with the upcoming Black Ops 6 reportedly being over 300 GB, well, we have a problem. A huge portion of that file size is down to texture data for the game's objects and environments.

If we could crunch that down, we could significantly reduce the download size of video games. (If game stores would develop the ability to deliver only the audio for the language we use, that would help, too.) That's the promise of AMD's "Neural Texture Block Compression," which the company will present a paper on at the 35th Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, taking place from July 3rd to July 5th, or the end of next week.

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Given that the presentation hasn't happened yet, we don't know that much about the technique, but based on this diagram in the tweet, we can infer a bit. It appears that AMD's idea is to compress the many different texture layers used on surfaces in modern games (like UV maps, specular maps, normal maps, roughness maps, and so on) into a single layer that is then read out by AI back into the various layers required by the game engine.

If that all sounds a bit familiar, it's probably because NVIDIA already announced a neural texture compression method more than a year ago. However, NVIDIA's method seems to be a bit different, as it requires game engine integration. AMD says that its method offers "unchanged runtime execution," meaning that developers don't have to modify their game code to use it. We're not quite clear on how that works out, but it certainly sounds promising for adoption. NVIDIA's method has yet to be used in any game.

We're interested to see exactly how AMD's method differs from NVIDIA's method, so look for more coverage of this tech when AMD unveils it next week.