Monday, August 18th 2008

NVIDIA Demonstrates Real-time Interactive Ray-tracing

Ray-tracing is the buzzword with consumer and professional graphics these days. It's a technique with which accurate representation of light with its behaviour in adherence with the laws of physics can be done when generating 3D computer graphics.

NVIDIA took ray-tracing to an interactive level with its work on an interactive real-time ray-tracing application. Currently NVIDIA has a larger stash of intellectual property in the field of ray-tracing than other players such as AMD or Intel, with the acquisition of MentalRay, a company that is pretty-much a standard in Hollywood.

At the Siggraph 2008 event, NVIDIA demonstrated a fully interactive GPU-based ray-tracer, which featured real-time ray-tracing in 30 frames/second (fps) and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The demo saw NVIDIA flex its muscle with using almost every element in ray-tracing for which technology has been developed so far, namely a two-million polygon demo, an image-based paint shader, ray traced shadows, reflections and refractions.

To maintain those 30 fps at a high display resolution, NVIDIA used four Quadro FX 5800 graphics cards working in tandem. These next-gen Quadro boards are based on GT200(b) GPUs, come with 240 shader processors and 4 GB of GDDR3 memory (for a total of 960 shaders and 16 GB of GDDR3 memory).

Source: TG Daily
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93 Comments on NVIDIA Demonstrates Real-time Interactive Ray-tracing

#1
KieranD
it dosnt look all that great i think

i think it looks like an old 1998 game cut scene

for me at least untill they can get the detail to the level of the wine glasses picture then ill be happy right now it looks worse than current graphics
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#2
AddSub
Yeah, dosen't look too special. I don't think ray-tracing will make that much of an impact in the gaming industry as they (Intel, nVidia) think it will. Anyone remember voxels and voxel rendering engines? It never really caught on.

Also, pretty obvious why nVidia did this demo. Kind of a "We can do it too!" type of message to Intel, their shareholders, and masses in general.
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#3
oli_ramsay
by: btarunr
To maintain those 30 fps at a high display resolution, NVIDIA used four Quadro FX 5800 graphics cards working in tandem. These next-gen Quadro boards are based on GT200(b) GPUs, come with 240 shader processors and 4 GB of GDDR3 memory (for a total of 960 shaders and 16 GB of GDDR3 memory).
wow, takes 960 shaders, and 16GB of video memory for a mere 30fps. I sure hope they optimise it a hell of a lot more before they use this in games otherwise you'll need a NASA supercomputer to maintain 60fps at 800x600.
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#4
aquariuz
by: KieranD
it dosnt look all that great i think

i think it looks like an old 1998 game cut scene

for me at least untill they can get the detail to the level of the wine glasses picture then ill be happy right now it looks worse than current graphics
I dont think u get the point of it though. If u pay attention to the lighting detail, shadows n reflection clarity, u can well see wat they're trying to show with ray-tracing. It is no where close to an old 1998 game cut scene. If anything it looks like GRID beefed up. The only thing lacking is obviously the details on the surroundings, like the poles n buildings, which makes the whole image kinda dull.

Just imagine wat games will look like when they get ray-tracing perfect. but wat im thinking is wat it will take to make it happen for us if it takes them 4 Quadro FX to maintain just 30fps? 16gb, dat means 8 4870X2? lol
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#5
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: oli_ramsay
wow, takes 960 shaders, and 16GB of video memory for a mere 30fps. I sure hope they optimise it a hell of a lot more before they use this in games otherwise you'll need a NASA supercomputer to maintain 60fps at 800x600.
It's an interactive demo, people who come to the booth should be able to check its interactive authenticity (and not something that's pre-rendered). Other companies including companies that work for production-houses in Hollywood use huge server farms to do the same, all for 24 fps of realistic graphics for movies.
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#6
mlupple
by: btarunr
It's an interactive demo, people who come to the booth should be able to check its interactive authenticity (and not something that's pre-rendered). Other companies including companies that work for production-houses in Hollywood use huge server farms to do the same, all for 24 fps of realistic graphics for movies.
You don't seem to understand the issue we have with this. It's getting only 30 FPS and doesn't even look as good as games do these days. Take GTA for the PS3 for example. That game looks better than this and is getting 30 FPS using a the PS3's weak GPU. It's not about Hollywood's render farms.
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#7
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: mlupple
You don't seem to understand the issue we have with this. It's getting only 30 FPS and doesn't even look as good as games do these days. Take GTA for the PS3 for example. That game looks better than this and is getting 30 FPS using a the PS3's weak GPU. It's not about Hollywood's render farms.
Well the last time AMD came out with something like this, they didn't give us a clue about the hardware they used, so at this point you can't call "NVIDIA used so much for just 30 fps" when you don't quite know what everyone else used.
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#8
Megasty
I think its just under represented by the images. That is literally a ton of graphical power. Ray-tracing is still in its infancy so I didn't expect too much in terms of real-time action.
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#9
mrw1986
AMD's looked better.
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#10
magibeg
by: mlupple
You don't seem to understand the issue we have with this. It's getting only 30 FPS and doesn't even look as good as games do these days. Take GTA for the PS3 for example. That game looks better than this and is getting 30 FPS using a the PS3's weak GPU. It's not about Hollywood's render farms.
I don't think you quite understand what you're supposed to be looking at in the demo. Its more or less extremely accurate lighting/shadows/reflections. I'm pretty confident that ray tracing will eventually be the way of the future (maybe in another 8 years or so). Wouldn't be surprised if the next-gen consoles try to implement some sort of ray tracing. Also i feel ray tracing is one of those things thats best seen in a video so you can really see how lighting and shadows interact with the environment.
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#11
substance90
The REFLECTIONS, guys, watch the reflections! It`s about a ray-tracer, remember? Don`t look at the other sh*t.
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#12
mdm-adph
by: substance90
The REFLECTIONS, guys, watch the reflections! It`s about a ray-tracer, remember? Don`t look at the other sh*t.
A lot of people don't understand what's so special about ray-tracing. They'll constantly be spouting off with "I don't get it -- it looks like crap" right up until the day when we're all jacking into the matrix. :shadedshu
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#13
donmarkoni
U really don't get!

After all this said, many people still miss the point.
If there is someone older on this forum, try to remember what was needed for 30 seconds of ray-traced animation 15-16 years ago...
I remember.
It took FOUR Silicon Graphics workstations rendering TWO WEEKS!
It is now done in real time.
So... It IS impressive! At least for me.
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#14
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
is there a link to any sort of video of this demo?
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#15
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: mlupple
You don't seem to understand the issue we have with this. It's getting only 30 FPS and doesn't even look as good as games do these days. Take GTA for the PS3 for example. That game looks better than this and is getting 30 FPS using a the PS3's weak GPU. It's not about Hollywood's render farms.
The pictures do not do Ray Tracing justice. If you just look at a still image, it will not look that great. You have to look closely at the detail. The realistic reflections on the car's paint for instance. The realistic shadows cast by everything. I think if they showed a demo set at night, with all the lights reflecting and throwing shadows, then it would really show the beauty of Ray-tracing.

And GTA4 does not look better than this, I have yet to see a single reflection in GTA4, and the shadows look like complete ass.

And as for the power needed, yes, it is insane, and no where near reasonable. But the technology is still very young.

You know, HDR came into the world in a very similar way. It used to take a workstation with several graphics cards in it to render HDR, now we don't even think about it, it just happens.
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#16
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Yes, here is the awesome: look at the orange road stripe being reflected even on the alloy wheels (something that has tons of polygons and is moving).
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#17
pbmaster
Yes, exactly. Saying something looks like crap while still-captured when it's meant to be viewed in motion isn't justifiable. If you actually look, EVERYTHING is reflected and EVERY shadow is accurately depicted.
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#18
Nothgrin
Some of you don't quite understand the look of ray tracing. I would advise you to go to wikipedia and look at the pictures. Those are probably prerendered through Maya or 3D Studio Max but imagine those images in real time and then you should get a better picture. Also you might want to note that thats 2 MILLION polygons. Most games don't even run that many. Take WoW for example, I would say at most theres 5-10K polygons on the screen at any one time. They use something called LOD(Level of Detail) as you move away from an object they reduce the polygon count on the model to save render time. What most games do to make them look more realistic is prerenedered shading. Thats a layer of normals that project from the model and the lighting is prebuilt into the model. This is shown in games such as Doom 3.

Before ray-tracing has been done pre-rendered because of the massive amounts of calculations involved but to see that it can be done in 30fps is just amazing. Supposedly DX11 is going to support ray tracing in HAL.
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#19
DarkMatter
Everything they have said about lighting/shadow/reflections clarity and accuracy apart. You have to take into account the polygon number on screen. How many games have you played with sustained 2 million polys? I'll tell you, NONE, not even close to that mark. You know when Crysis starts to lag because all the explsions and things flying? That's 1 million polys.

And that is a tech demo, the goal was not to make a pretty image. It was for the people who can understand what 30 fps @1920x1200 in a 2 million poly scene means.
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#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: btarunr
Yes, here is the awesome: look at the orange road stripe being reflected even on the alloy wheels (something that has tons of polygons and is moving).
Not only that, but something that is curved. Up until now, doing reflections, especially realistic ones, on curved objects was next to impossible in real time. I have a feeling that is one of the reasons they picked that car to do the demo with actually, there isn't a flat surface on it, that and the car is bad ass.:)

Also, you have to realize the images presented here ar 800x450, the demo was done at 1900x1080. There is a huge loss of quality just from the scaling of the images.
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#21
Megasty
I for one would love to see that demo. But anything on the web would reduce the quality 10 fold which just sucks. Go into any kind of current racing game like grid or nfsps and see if you get all those pure reflections. Even with the games completely maxed out on a 30" lcd don't even come close.
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#22
KainXS
this should give ray tracing a nice boost since now ati and nvidia gpu's can do it now
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#23
DarkMatter
The bad thing is that ray-tracing is out of DX11 no?
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#24
PCpraiser100
The Ray-Tracing is overkill, I rather stick with more scaled shaders and textures like Cinema 2.0. Nvidia probably demonstrated this so some consumers can take their eyes off of the Cinema 2.0 articles. Ray-tracing is good, but i still think that Cinema 2.0 is better. I'm not saying that it looks unrealistic, I'm saying that when compared to texture-mapping its way out of the developer's league. Its still pretty cool, just don't wanna spend 40 Gs to get the setup to play it lol.
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#25
DrPepper
The Doctor is in the house
We're getting close to "real" graphics after ray tracing :( I like graphics the way they are now.
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