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Frostbite's Serac Language: Streamlined Shader Authoring

Simon Taylor (Senior Software Engineer, Electronic Arts)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Core Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Programming

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: Intermediate

Like most modern game engines, Frostbite has a lot of shader code. Furthermore, the Frostbite renderer must be highly flexible, supporting titles as diverse as Battlefield, FIFA and Need for Speed. Managing this complexity whilst retaining the required performance is becoming increasingly challenging using vanilla HLSL, which lacks adequate features for modularity, extensibility and developer productivity. This session introduces a new language developed at Frostbite, 'Serac,' which is designed to address these concerns by wrapping HLSL, augmenting it with such features, as well as integrating seamlessly with Frostbite's artist-focused shader node graph system. The session digs into what the problems with existing shader authoring ecosystem are, discusses how Serac was designed to tackle these problems, and details how it is implemented under the hood.


Attendees come away with an understanding of the challenges facing shader authors in a large-scale highly flexible environment like Frostbite, and details of one possible way to address these challenges. Additionally, the session will hopefully inspire attendees to drive further innovation in shader language design.

Intended Audience

This session is targeted at rendering engineers, or anyone writing shader code for execution on the GPU, as well as those interested in the design and implementation of languages and systems for large scale engineering and production. Prior knowledge of HLSL is helpful.