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Why does Deferred Lighting work with MSAA?

3 posts in this topic

I want to change my existing application from Forward Shading to Deferred Lighting.

I read that Deferred Lighting works with MSAA from the start. But I don't understand why.


In Deferred Lighting, we have a "n-buffer" which stores surface normals per screen pixel. We also have a "light buffer" which accumulates the intensity of diffuse lighting. (Let's ignore specularity for the moment).

Deferred LIghting has 3 steps:

1. Render geometry (surface normals and z-buffer only) to n-buffer

2. Render light volumes, adding their contributions into the light buffer

3. Render geometry again, reading from the light buffer to calculate final shading.


In my understanding, the backbuffer is antialised while n-buffer and light buffer are not.

In MSAA, the pixel shader is executed for each pixel center where one of the sub-samples is occupied by a triangle.

Wouldn't that mean that in step 3, the pixel shader would read from the wrong values in the light buffer, as the light buffer is not antialiased?

Edited by Tubos

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Deferred lighting for situations where you really need a very small G-Buffer (TBDR GPU's on phones, Xbox 360 eDRAM) but otherwise it really doesn't have any advantages over a more traditional deferred rendering setup.
It does have the advantage of supporting MSAA on Direct3D9 hardware with little effort. For traditional deferred rendering there is no good Direct3D9 MSAA solution that I'm aware of.


In order to get the "correct" MSAA results (same results as if you used forward rendering), your lighting pass has to output lighting for every subsample in each pixel.
OK, if I understand that correctly, I can do one of two things:
a) Lighting and normals buffer has to be 2x or 4x the size (for 2x or 4x MSAA, respectively).

or b) Make the lighting and normal buffers antialiased, and then read from them. This only works in DirectX 10 and up, Direct3D9 cannot use an antialiased rendertarget as texture.


Thanks Hodgman, that flitering idea sounds nice and would work on DX9 class hardware with no problems as far as I can see.


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