NVIDIA has unveiled its GeForce RTX series, the first gaming GPU to be based on its new Turing Architecture, which takes over from Pascal as its most powerful architecture and which allows incredibly life-like simulations.
A key new function of the next generation of graphics performance is ray tracing, which is the simulation of realistic lighting effects in a computer-constructed 3D environment.
The Turing architecture has dedicated ray tracing processors which do the computational work to display accurately how light would be reflected off a glass table or what shadows a moving object creates.
Ray tracing has been used to make CGI in films for some time, but it is very computationally heavy and it is even more stressful on GPU’s if they are asked to do the work in real-time, as a video game would require.
Speaking at the start of SIGGRAPH, the annual conference on computer graphics, Jensen Huang,the founder and CEO of NVIDIA commented that: “Turing is NVIDIA’s most important innovation in computer graphics in more than a decade.”
“Hybrid rendering will change the industry, opening up amazing possibilities that enhance our lives with more beautiful designs, richer entertainment and more interactive experiences. The arrival of real-time ray tracing is the holy grail of our industry.”
Ray Tracing: Out of the Shadows
Potentially the GeForce RTX series could bring about a new wave of high end CGI productions of virtual and augmented reality advertisements and training material.
With real-time ray tracing in VR training programmes, employees could be totally immersed in their surroundings. Architecture and design enterprises can create real world environments that have realistic world lighting and shading effects.
While commercial applications outside of the gaming arena may be some way off, there has been a rise in applications that let you place objects you are thinking of purchasing in your home such as the IKEA AR app which allows you to place different sets of furniture in a room to see how it would look.
With ray tracing you would be able to see an accurate account of how lighting would be affected by different objects or light placements.
Michele Sciolette, CTO of Cinesite commented on the RTX GPU that “Cinesite is proud to partner with Autodesk and NVIDIA to bring Arnold [CGI software] to the GPU, but we never expected to see results this dramatic. This means we can iterate faster, more frequently and with higher quality settings. This will completely change how our artists work.”
The GeForce RTX is cited by Nvidia as providing six times the performance of its previous Pascal architecture and 10 GigaRays per second, or 10x Pascal.
However, during their presentations of the GeForce RTX series they have not used traditional performance comparisons such as floating point operations per second or teraflops. Instead they are using RTX-OPS which measure the average performance with regards to ray-tracing, fading and shading.
Considering that the Pascal architecture was not constructed with heavy duty ray tracing in mind RTX-OPS might be a bit misleading.