Sorted Deferred Shading for Production Path Tracing



Ray-traced global illumination (GI) is becoming widespread in production rendering but incoherent secondary ray traversal limits practical rendering to scenes that fit in memory. Incoherent shading also leads to intractable performance with production-scale textures forcing renderers to resort to caching of irradiance, radiosity, and other values to amortize expensive shading. Unfortunately, such caching strategies complicate artist workflow, are difficult to parallelize effectively, and contend for precious memory. Worse, these caches involve approximations that compromise quality. In this paper, we introduce a novel path-tracing framework that avoids these tradeoffs. We sort large, potentially out-of-core ray batches to ensure coherence of ray traversal. We then defer shading of ray hits until we have sorted them, achieving perfectly coherent shading and avoiding the need for shading caches.