It is no secret that I have been pretty impressed with NVIDIA DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). This technology has made it possible to play games at higher frame rates even with less powerfull GPU’s with still great image quality.
It turns out that Nvidia have more tricks up their sleave. Recently they revealed that not only were they bringing DLSS to the Elder Scrolls Online MMO, they were also testing a related technology; Nvidia DLAA which stands for Deep Learning Anti Aliasing.
While we were working on adding NVIDIA DLSS, we also worked with them on some new tech that we’re going to be the first game that’s ever done this before. This is debuting their new tech, which is called NVIDIA DLAA. It’s the same kind of concept, you won’t get a performance boost out of this but what you get is absolutely incredible anti-aliasing. It’s unbelievable, it’s crazy how good it is. (The Elder Scrolls Online’s Creative Director, Rich Lambert)
So what is DLAA?
Nvidia DLAA uses Nvidia’s Deep learning tech while ignoring the upscaling component. The goal is to use AI to remove jagged edges and get smoother edges in the game just as regular anti-aliasing.
There are three main types of anti-aliasing: multi-sampling anti-aliasing (MSAA), fast approximate anti-aliasing (FXAA), and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA). Each work in slightly different ways.
In multisample anti-aliasing, if any of the multi sample locations in a pixel is covered by the triangle being rendered, a shading computation must be performed for that triangle. However this calculation only needs to be performed once for the whole pixel regardless of how many sample positions are covered; the result of the shading calculation is simply applied to all of the relevant multi sample locations. (source).
TAA samples each pixel only once per frame, but it samples the pixels at a different locations in different frames. This makes TAA faster than MSAA. In parts of the picture without motion, TAA effectively computes MSAA over multiple frames and achieves the same quality as MSAA with lower computational cost. (source).
The main advantage of this technique over conventional spatial anti-aliasing is that it does not require large amounts of computing power. It achieves this by smoothing undesirable jagged edges (“jaggies”) as pixels, according to how they appear on-screen, rather than analyzing the 3D model itself, as in conventional spatial anti-aliasing.
FXAA only samples pixels once like TAA, but only focused on what’s showing up on your screen for a given frame instead of using a time component. It’s faster than the other methods buth with worse image quality.
So where does DLAA fit in here? Nvidia DLAA is similar to TAA but only samples pixels that have changed between frames instead of all pixels and fills in the missing information by using machine learning.
Just as with DLSS Nvidia feeds an AI-model with low resolution aliased images rendered by a game engine as well as motion vectors from the same scene. The AI compares the low resolution image to a high res reference image and the model is being created. Nvidia includes the model in a driver and you can start using DLAA in the game. For the Elders Scrolls MMO-game this was included in the latest driver.
It is important to understand that DLAA is there to replace TAA and improve quality, not increase performance. So you can have DLSS and DLAA on at the same time where DLSS increases performance at almost the same image quality while DLAA improve image quality at the same performance (or a bit worse).
I quickly downloaded Elder Scrolls Online to take it out for a spin on my Asus Zephyrus G15 (RTX3080). Unfortunately I for some reason could not find the setting for DLSS/DLAA so I had instead rely on some youtube footage and images take from some other sites.
MXBenchmarkPC recorded a video of the game using TAA, DLSS and/or DLAA. As always looking at a youtube video discussing image quality is not ideal as Youtube itself might worsen the image quality due to compression. Looking at the different AA-solutions it seems that DLAA is close to TAA. TAA might look a bit sharper but looking at things like stairs when moving the stairs were shimmering more in TAA than with DLAA. There is much less ghosting in DLAA than in DLSS but not completely gone.
Techpowerup also did a article about DLAA with more images. It looks like you trade some sharpness in DLAA compared to TAA but win it in making the image texture-shimmer a bit less
So will DLAA rock the world? I would say that it is too early to say yay or nay to that. The idea to get something like DLSS but without the upscaling part is something that many have asked for and DLAA is basically it. ESO might not be the best implementation yet, something that is evident by people saying they actually prefer TAA when looking at the images or the video, but that doesn’t mean that the technology isn’t