NVIDIA TXAA Brings Movie CGI Rendering To PC Games

TXAA in Motion

The following two videos give you an apples-to-apples comparison of how each anti-aliasing method looks in-game. We recommend viewing in full-screen and HD mode, as the smaller video player view can obscure some of the differences.

Texture shimmering in both of these cases is pretty bad. It's enough to be distracting during normal game play, particularly on the light poles and the streetcar rails. Thin, sharp lines flicker, and in a cityscape, those sorts of lines are everywhere.

So here's how TXAA resolves it.

If you're comparing to the first videos, check the streetcar rails, the light poles, and the red car.  As we move into the alley, check the bike stands on the right-hand side. 2x TXAA really looks good here; it eliminates most of the shimmering we noticed previously without significantly blurring the scene. The GeForce GTX 670 we tested on had no problem keeping the frame rate around 50fps at 1920X1080 resolution.

The blur that we've mentioned isn't just an byproduct of the AA method -- it's designed to mimic how Hollywood incorporates CGI with real-world footage. Timothy Lottes, one of the TXAA designers, has an extensive blog post on the topic, along with side-by-side shots of how the eye interprets subtle blurring as presenting a more realistic image.

The Not-So-Final Verdict:

With just one game to examine and no way to force TXAA in games that don't explicitly support it, it's hard to call whether the technology will catch or not. Historically, specialized graphics functionality that's only supported by Nvidia or AMD, but not both, hasn't done particularly well.

We suspect TXAA's long-term popularity will hinge on how easy it is to support and whether or not the upcoming crop of game engines are capable of using standard MSAA. Game developers are used to supporting Nvidia-specific AA modes like CSAA. If TXAA requires a similar level of optimization, it may catch on quickly.

We're optimistic about TXAA's long-term potential. Image output is superior to 4xMSAA and the temporal component works well. Nvidia has chosen to keep TXAA as a Kepler-only feature for now, which may slow its market growth, but The Secret World demonstrates that there's a place for this technology. Hopefully next time it appears, we'll be able to compare it directly against MSAA.

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