NVIDIA just announced the NVIDIA RTX real-time ray tracing technology at GDC 2018. It promises to bring real-time, cinematic-quality rendering to content creators and game developers. Find out what NVIDIA RTX is all about, and what it means to all of us!
The Holy Grail For Photorealism
Ray tracing is the gold standard for creating realistic, lifelike lighting, reflections and shadows. It adds a level of realism far beyond what is possible using traditional rendering techniques.
Real-time ray tracing replaces a majority of the rendering techniques used today, with realistic optical calculations that replicate the way light behaves in the real world. But until today, it has been too computationally-demanding to be practical for real-time, interactive gaming.
NVIDIA RTX Real-Time Ray Tracing Technology
NVIDIA RTX is a real-time ray tracing technology that promises to deliver real-time ray tracing with high frame rates and low latency.
It runs exclusively (at the moment) on the NVIDIA Volta GPUs. Applications that run on the newly-announced Microsoft DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API will support NVIDIA RTX when used with an NVIDIA Volta graphics card.
GameWorks For Ray Tracing
NVIDIA also announced that the NVIDIA GameWorks SDK will include a ray tracing denoiser module. This suite of tools and resources will help developers increase realism and shorten product cycles for titles developed using the new Microsoft DXR API and NVIDIA RTX.
The upcoming GameWorks SDK — which will support Volta and future generation GPU architectures — enables ray-traced area shadows, ray-traced glossy reflections and ray-traced ambient occlusion.
With these capabilities, developers can create realistic, high-quality reflections that capture the scene around it and achieve physically accurate lighting and shadows.
Broad Industry Support
Industry leaders such as 4A Games, Epic, Remedy Entertainment and Unity featured NVIDIA RTX in their technology demonstrations at the Game Developers Conference 2018. They showed how real-time ray tracing can provide amazing, lifelike graphics in future games.
March 1, 2017 — NVIDIA today announced GameWorks DX12, a collection of resources for game developers that will increase realism and shorten product cycles in titles designed using DirectX 12, Microsoft’s API that unifies graphics and simulation.
These resources include updates to the NVIDIA GameWorks SDK for creating interactive cinematic experiences on PC games; updates to the NVIDIA VRWorks SDK for creating immersive virtual reality experiences; new developer tools; and a new Game Ready Driver.
Together, they provide developers with substantial performance gains, multiple new rendering and simulation effects, and other capabilities to help create games optimised for DirectX 12.
“We have invested over 500 engineering-years of work to deliver the most comprehensive platform for developing DirectX 12 games, including the world’s most advanced physics simulation engine,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “These resources will ensure that GeForce gamers can enjoy the very best game experience on DirectX 12 titles, just as they have on DirectX 11 games.”
“NVIDIA’s commitment to DirectX 12 is clear,” said Cam McRae, technical director at the Coalition, developers of Gears of War 4. “Having them onsite during the development of Gears of War 4 was immensely beneficial, and helped us to deliver a game that is fast, beautiful and stable.”
“NVIDIA creates stunning special effects that run in real time on a PC and provides them to game developers,” said Hajime Tabata, division executive of Square Enix. “A lot of the visual magic you see in video games today is a direct result of NVIDIA’s work behind the scenes. They are providing an invaluable combination of source code, tools, technology and the engineering effort it takes to help developers implement them. The advancement that we are trying to create through this collaboration is not simply about an evolution in visual appearance, but also to use new technology to create new user experiences.”
GameWorks Physics Simulation Comes to DX12
The latest version of GameWorks builds on the over 2 million lines of documented code that are available to developers, providing them with a huge range of rendering and simulation effects. GameWorks technologies are currently used in more than 1,000 titles.
DirectX 12 introduced asynchronous compute, which unified graphics and simulation by allowing GPUs to run non-graphics workloads for effects such as post-processing, lighting and physics. But these effects are currently limited because most games can only allocate a few milliseconds to run these types of non-graphical simulations while still delivering smooth gameplay.
To maximize the efficiency of asynchronous compute for gaming effects, NVIDIA introduced the world’s most advanced real-time physics simulation engine to DX12, with two technologies that take advantage of asynchronous compute:
NVIDIA Flow 1.0 – a visual effects library that provides simulation and volume rendering of dynamic, combustible fluid, fire and smoke. Supports both DirectX 12 and 11.
NVIDIA FleX 1.1 – a unified particle-based simulation technique for real-time visual effects. Supports DirectX 12 compute.
FleX and Flow are available immediately for free to registered developers.
GameWorks updates also include NVIDIA HairWorks 1.3, a library that enables developers to simulate and render realistic fur and hair for their games. Version 1.3 supports DirectX 12 and is also available immediately.
VRWorks Comes to DirectX 12
VRWorks includes APIs, libraries and features that enable headset and application developers to achieve a new level of immersion in VR. It has been updated to support DirectX 12 with better performance, lower latency and plug-and-play compatibility. It will be supported in the Unity 2017.1 beta, which ships this spring, and the Unreal Engine 4 game engines — thus covering a majority of game development platforms.
World’s Most Advanced DirectX 12 Developer Tools
NVIDIA also introduced several developer resources created to improve DirectX 12 game development, including:
NVIDIA Aftermath 1.0 – a diagnostic utility that developers can use for analyzing DirectX 12 error reports.
Nsight Visual Studio Edition 5.3 – a tool that lets developers debug and profile VR and DirectX 12 applications in real time. Includes support for the Oculus, OpenVR (HTC Vive) and DirectX 12 APIs.
PIX Plug-in – PIX is a DirectX 12 debugging tool developed by Microsoft. NVIDIA collaborated with the Microsoft PIX team to expose NVIDIA GPU Performance Counters to PIX for Windows via a PIX Plug-in.
Game Ready Driver Optimised for DX12
NVIDIA also revealed an upcoming Game Ready Driver optimised for DirectX 12 games. The company refined code in the driver and worked side by side with game developers to deliver performance increases of up to 16 percent on average across a variety of DirectX 12 games, such as Ashes of the Singularity, Gears of War 4, Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Tom Clancy’s The Division.
Since the first launch of its Pascal architecture — the world’s most advanced DX12 GPU family, including the performance-leading GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080 GPUs — NVIDIA has continuously improved DX12 game performance through releases of Game Ready drivers. The drivers are timed with the release of the latest games by leading partners.
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