NVIDIA launched the long-awaited next generation of graphics cards from the company, the GeForce RTX. The new high-end graphics cards series are the GeForce RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti which is based on the company’s new Turing architecture, the new graphics card focus on real-time ray tracing application in gaming as well as artificial intelligence. In this post, you will know everything about Nvidia’s new Real-Time Ray Tracing technology!
What is Real-Time Ray Tracing technology?
Ray tracing is more of a physical version of drawing than traditional game graphics approaches, which are more comparable to art through rasterization. Ray tracing is a calculation of the physics of light, originating from the camera’s viewpoint and tracing into the camera frustum. As far as we’re concerned, as players, that’d mean that the rays being traced originate in our ‘eyes,’ then project outward and onto the scene. These rays trace bounces off of objects, working in reverse from the camera to the object, to the source of light. Once we’ve found the source of light, the GPU can compute the physically accurate rendition of how that ray bounces off of surfaces and reaches our camera.
Ray tracing certainly promises to bridge the gap between reality and virtual reality, which is why Nvidia’s graphics cards are such a big deal. But that also means they are a lot more expensive than one would have hoped.
Nvidia’s website says:
Ray tracing is the definitive solution for lifelike lighting, reflections, and shadows, offering a level of realism far beyond what’s possible using traditional rendering techniques. Turing is the first GPU capable of real-time ray tracing.
How does it work?
Ray tracing is a rendering technique that has existed for a long time, but it is extremely computationally expensive. It has never really been used to render things in real time because it has basically been impossibly slow.
It basically involves estimating the path of every ray of light, and how it reflects and interacts with different materials and textures. So light will refract off of a glass surface one way, or a felt surface another way.
Before ray tracing, lighting scenes in games doesn’t work like it does in real life. It is just an approximation of a model.
Ray tracing, on the other hand, is literally a simulation of how light actually works.
For example, if you have a very large light source, like an overcast sky, the shadows that the light casts will be minimal because there is light coming from many different angles. But if there’s one small light in a room, the results will be very different. Shadows from that small light source would be much harder, and that light would also bounce off the walls, which would reflect some light too – and so the reflected light may also change in color if the walls aren’t white. And if the shadow is from an item close to the wall, it will be a harder shadow – and when you move the item further from the wall, the shadow would become softer – due to the ambient light in the room, and the diffraction of that light.
What Does Real-Time Ray Tracing Mean for Gamers Today?
Real-time ray tracing technology will not improve your graphics in all the games you play. They only help you in games that support NVIDIA RTX technology, and only if you enable ray tracing at the cost of some FPS.
Here’s the list of games that NVIDIA announced will support NVIDIA RTX. More games will support it in the future, of course—but these are the first ones:
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- Atomic Heart
- Battlefield V
- MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
- Metro Exodus
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
NVIDIA announced three different GPUs in the GeForce RTX 20 series. RTX 2070 cards will start at $499, RTX 2080 cards start at $699, and RTX 2080 Ti cards start at $999. These are higher-end enthusiast GPUs, but they’re much more affordable to the average gamer than a $60,000 supercomputer.
You can preorder the “Founders Editions” of these cards from NVIDIA, but they’ll cost you $599, $799, and $1199, respectively.
Cryptocurrency prices have gone down, and GPUs aren’t as useful for mining as they used to be, so hopefully, it will be easier for gamers to get their hands on this hardware.
These cards are now the fastest NVIDIA GPUs you can buy, so it’s not all about ray tracing.
Specifically, NVIDIA says that the RTX 2080 is 50% faster than the GTX 1080 when running at 4K resolution in games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Wolfenstein II. NVIDIA says this should result in a performance of 60 frames per second at 4K resolution in games like Call of Duty WW2, Destiny 2, Far Cry 5, and Battlefield 1.
Also, NVIDIA announced a new Deep Learning Super-Sampling (DLSS) technique that uses the Turing cores on the RTX GPU. DLSS uses deep learning and AI to predict pixels, and NVIDIA says this can improve performance by 75% in games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy XV. The game developer has to add support for the technology, however, so it won’t work in all games.
Initially, it is likely that ray-traced elements or specific scenes will appear as features mixed into games, rather than being used to create entire games, since the vast majority of gamers won’t be able to run RTX for quite a while. Some game devs have also said that it would be a massive undertaking, and a large performance hit, to re-architect their titles to support ray tracing — no matter how fast the ray tracer itself is. Nvidia is certainly chumming the water, with a solid list of titles it claims are actively working on implementing real-time ray tracing using RTX, but we’ll have to wait and see what they actually deliver and when.