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Best way to pass material parameters to shaders

3 posts in this topic

How do you pass material parameters such as floating-point uniforms to shader programs?


In most engines they query locations of each uniform (by name/semantic) and set them one by one

(e.g. UpdateUniform( int buffer, int offset, const void* data, int size)).


Each uniform, or constant buffer has a shadow copy in sysmem an 'isDirty' flag to skip reuploading unchanged data to videomem.


Wouldn't it be better to have inside the material a parameter blob for just memcpy()ing to entire uniform buffer

(the blob format matches the shader constant buffer layout)? But it won't be possible for modders to assign new shaders to existing materials, right?



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I've worked with more than one engine, where in normal usage, the engine spent 25-50% of the main thread's time on setting individual uniform values... So, I much prefer using the simplest possible method, which yes, is blobs of bytes.

I think about uniforms in two types - ones that are set by the game/engine with different values over time, and ones that are set by artists when they create their material but do not change after.
For the first group, yes you have to standardize the layout. The shaders can be replaced/modified as long as people are aware of the layouts that have to used to receive engine-generated data.
For the second group, any layout at all can be used. I precompile material files into blobs of bytes at data-build time. If either a material or a shader is modified, you've just got to run the data compiler again.

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1) Do you create separate immutable constant buffers (ID3D11Buffer*) for each material instance (StateGroup in your terminology from other thread) during loading?

(if i understand you correctly, material parameters defined by artists don't change at runtime so the CBs can be simply bound to slots without costly updating.)


2) How is your StateGroup structure defined in code?

 How do you resolve pointers to graphics resources when loading StateGroups?

 Does your low-level platform-independent graphics layer have functions like UpdateConstantBuffer(), SetConstantBuffers(), SetSamplers(), SetTextures() ?


mine goes like this:


// shader dependencies
struct rsShaderPass

TBuffer< HUniformBuffer > CBsItems; // handles to constant buffers
UINT16 CBsStart;

TBuffer< HSamplerState > SSsItems; // handles to sampler states
UINT16 SSsStart;

TBuffer< HShaderResource > SRsItems; // handles to shader resources
UINT16 SRsStart;  

// metadata for resolving shader dependencies (@todo: get rid of this crap)
rsShaderPassInfo	meta;





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