Software-based Variable Rate Shading in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Michal Drobot

This lecture covers a novel rendering pipeline used in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2020). It enables a highly customizable software-based variable rate shading; a method to render parts of the render target at a resolution matching image frequency. As opposed to hardware-based solutions which are restricted to a subset of available devices, its software-based implementation makes it possible to achieve higher quality and performance on a wide range of consumer hardware.

The lecture presents the design process, resulting implementation, and in-depth examination of every stage of the pipeline. This  includes pre-pass rendering, variable-rate estimators, novel and unique pixel packing schemes for compute shader kernels, and the final frame rendering in our forward-plus renderer. Potential implementations in other renderer types and job types will also be discussed, alongside forward-looking extensions to better cater to many different use cases which range across quality and performance.

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