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Passing vertex information to compute shader

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Hi all

I am currently attempting to create a ray tracer using the GPU with the intention of extending it to a path tracer once I get a basic ray tracer working for a project of mine.


As both algorithms require performing intersection tests against all known geometry in the scene, this means that I will need a single buffer containing the triangle/vertex information for every piece of geometry in a given scene as I expect repeated render calls for individual pieces of geometry will be very slow. This is fine for scenes with a low amount of triangles but my intention is to render fairly complex scenes later, which could potentially contain thousands of triangles so this is my first concern: Is there a set limit to the amount of data I can pass in a single buffer to the GPU or is it solely limited to the amount of RAM available on the GPU?


My second question is how do I actually go about passing the data to the compute shader? I have only ever used vertex/pixel shaders before which obviously make use of the standard rasterization pipeline : IE the input assembler and buffers containing the vertices (and indices) with the D3D11_BIND_VERTEX_BUFFER (and D3D11_BIND_INDEX_BUFFER) flags. As the application will only use the compute shader and a different method of drawing graphics, I'm not sure if I can use these specific buffers or if I should be using a structured buffer instead with a struct matching the vertex information, as I've heard that there are conflicts with specifying a buffer with both the D3D11_BIND_VERTEX_BUFFER and the D3D11_BIND_UNORDERED_ACCESS flags but I could be mistaken.

Any information or help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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I don't think there's a limit, aside from how much memory that the driver can allocate. For reading a buffer in a compute shader you're probably going to want to use a structured buffer. Unfortunately D3D11 has a silly restriction that you can't create a buffer with both D3D11_BIND_VERTEX_BUFFER and D3D11_BIND_SHADER_RESOURCE, so if you want to read from a buffer in a shader then it can't be a vertex buffer. However if you create the buffer as a structured buffer and you need to rasterize it with the graphics pipeline, you can always just directly read from the buffer a shader resource view in your vertex shader using SV_VertexID.

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The resource limits can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ff819065(v=vs.85).aspx.  Generally speaking the maximum size of any resource is 1/4 the total video ram, with a minimum of 128MB, up to a max of 2GB.  As MJP pointed out a structured buffer is the best thing to use for passing the data.

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