Real-time Neural Radiance Caching for Path Tracing
We introduce a real-time neural radiance caching technique for path-traced global illumination. Our system is designed to handle fully dynamic scenes, and makes no assumptions about the lighting, geometry, and materials. The data-driven nature of our approach sidesteps many difficulties of caching algorithms, such as locating, interpolating, and updating cache points. Since pretraining neural networks to handle novel, dynamic scenes is a formidable generalization challenge, we do away with pretraining and instead achieve generalization via adaptation, i.e. we opt for training the radiance cache while rendering. We employ self-training—reminiscent of radiosity algorithms—to provide low-noise training targets and simulate infinite-bounce transport by merely iterating few-bounce training updates. The updates and cache queries incur a mild overhead—about 2.6ms on full HD resolution—thanks to a streaming implementation of the neural network that fully exploits modern hardware. We demonstrate significant noise reduction at the cost of little induced bias, and report state-of-the-art, real-time performance on a number of challenging scenarios.
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