Dynamic Many-Light Sampling for Real-Time Ray Tracing

Monte Carlo ray tracing offers the capability of rendering scenes with large numbers of area light sources---lights can be sampled stochastically and shadowing can be accounted for by tracing rays, rather than using shadow maps or other rasterization-based techniques that do not scale to many lights or work well with area lights. Current GPUs only afford the capability of tracing a few rays per pixel at real-time frame rates, making it necessary to focus sampling on important light sources. While state-of-the-art algorithms for offline rendering build hierarchical data structures over the light sources that enable sampling them according to their importance, they lack efficient support for dynamic scenes. We present a new algorithm for maintaining hierarchical light sampling data structures targeting real-time rendering. Our approach is based on a two-level BVH hierarchy that reduces the cost of partial hierarchy updates. Performance is further improved by updating lower-level BVHs via refitting, maintaining their original topology. We show that this approach can give error within 6% of recreating the entire hierarchy from scratch at each frame, while being two orders of magnitude faster, requiring less than 1 ms per frame for hierarchy updates for a scene with thousands of moving light sources on a modern GPU. Further, we show that with spatiotemporal filtering, our approach allows complex scenes with thousands of lights to be rendered with ray-traced shadows in 16.1 ms per frame.

Pierre Moreau (NVIDIA, Lund University)
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