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 May 25, 2005 - 02:30 PM - by Michael
* ArsTechnica: Xbox360, Part I

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Xbox/Xbox Games
Ars Technica takes a look into the Xbox360 today as well, putting forth their thoughts on how the thing was designed, and what "procedural synthesis" really means.

Also part of a series; it'll be interesting to see what they focus on for the next part. Thankfully, Procedural Synthesis has almost nothing to do with blast processing from Sega.

Tessellation is usually done by the artist who's rendering the model for use in a game. The model is tessellated so that it can be stored on the game distribution media as a list of vertices, a list that will later be moved into system memory and then into the GPU as described in the previous section.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 can use the Xenon CPU to tessellate curves in real-time. The higher order curves can be stored in compact form in main memory, and then transferred to the Xenon where they're tessellated into vertex data. As with the procedural geometry generation described above, this dynamically generated vertex data is then passed directly to the GPU for rendering.

Real-time tessellation has a few advantages. First, storing models as collections of higher order curves is a more compact than storing them as vertex lists. This is especially true for high-polygon-count models, where the higher number of polygons approximates the original curves better but also makes for more vertex data. So real-time tessellation is another form of data compression that lets developers use a limited amount of source data, main memory, and bus bandwidth to render a highly detailed, data-intensive scene.
They also discuss real-time motion generation and skinning, two things designed to lower the cost of designing every object individually.

If you've got the time to sit and read this thing end to end, you'll learn a lot.

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