Video games, for all their lifelike facial animations, typically have an unsightly blob for characters' hair. Some games pull it off better than others, but for the most part it's still unrealistic. Luckily, AMD is looking to change all of that with its new TressFX Hair showcased in the new Tomb Raider game. Lara Croft is an iconic figure, so AMD and Crystal Dynamics teamed up to ensure every part of the redesigned Lara is perfect, including her hair. She still has that distinctive ponytail, just now it actually looks and behaves like real hair instead of a clumped mess. TressFX Hair uses DirectCompute to enable the parallel processing capabilities of the Graphics Core Next architecture, which results in CGI-quality hair. It "makes use of Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage."
DirectCompute also performs the physics simulations for TressFX Hair, which treats each strand as a "chain with dozens of links." It means wind, water, gravity, and head movements are all accurately reflected in the hair, so the wind can whip each strand around or the rain can make it stick to her neck and shoulders. Her hair also has collision detection, so it won't be passing through other strands or part of Lara herself. Basically, how hair reacts in real life is how it reacts in the new Tomb Raider game.
You can read a more in-depth view of TressFX Hair at the source below, though it's unclear if only Radeon HD 7000 and future GCN-based card users can benefit from TressFX or if it's open to everyone. Tomb Raider arrives on March 5, 2013, for the PC, PS3, and 360.