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NVIDIA brings ray tracing to some GeForce GTX cards today

13 April, 2019, 00:25 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Nvidia Delivers Ray Tracing Driver for Previous-Gen Pascal Cards, New Demos

The drivers, which have always been baked into the DirectX Ray-tracing (DXR) API, will now enable GeForce GTX graphics cards to utilise the feature, albeit on a software level.

The long and short of it being that simple reflections and shadows can be had without awful performance drops on cards that lack RT hardware, however the more rays an effect requires, the worse the performance hit gets (or perhaps, the better an RTX card would look). Specifically, only the GTX 1060 6GB, GTX 1070, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Ti, TITAN X, TITAN Xp, GTX 1660, and GTX 1660 Ti will be able to utilise real-time ray-tracing.

You can check out more performance details over at Nvidia's dedicated post, or check out this video in which Nvidia's VP of Technical Marketing, Tony Tamasi, explains a bit more about DXR and its implementations in games. Here's a peek at some of NVIDIA's own internal benchmark results. On the other side of that coin, if you've been on the fence about buying an RTX card because you're not sure if ray tracing is worth the additional cost, this could be a good way to get a feel for the tech before deciding to take the plunge (assuming, of course, that you've got a supported GTX card in your current rig).

Of note, this version has been enhanced with Deep Learning Super Sampling tech, to boost performance, and NVIDIA implemented new DXR updates and optimizations to further improve the quality of this stunning slice of entertainment. Fundamentally, it's a case of increasing the amount of DXR-enabled hardware. "They all understand this is the way graphics are going to be". GTX cards, even those based on Turing-class GPUs, would not include the new specialized hardware functions that enable Nvidia's ray tracing support. And while NVIDIA hasn't confirmed the driver build number or given the press an advanced look at the driver, this driver should be the first public driver in NVIDIA's new Release 430 (?) driver branch.


As Nvidia itself admits, this will make for a less-impressive ray-tracing experience. New driver branches are some of the most interesting driver releases from NVIDIA since these are normally the break points where they introduce new features under the hood, so I'm eager to see what they have been up to since R415/R418 was first released back in October.

Naturally, this demo will also work on those owning any of NVIDIA's Turing GPUs.

As for those aforementioned tech demos, there are three in all: there's the Mundfish-made Atomic Heart RTX tech demo, the Justice tech demo, and the previously-referenced Reflections, which was created by Epic Games in partnership with NVIDIA and ILMxLAB. However as an aficionado for proper tech demo public binary releases - something that's become increasingly rare these days (Tim, I need Troll!) - it's great to see these demos finally released to the public. All three demos can be downloaded at NVIDIA's official page. And while there are now only three games featuring ray tracing effects, NVIDIA has released three tech demos for you to try. Atomic Heart looks to be the primary demo of this at the moment.

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