Monday, March 19th 2018

Microsoft Releases DirectX Raytracing - NVIDIA Volta-based RTX Adds Real-Time Capability

Microsoft today announced an extension to its DirectX 12 API with DirectX Raytracing, which provides components designed to make real-time ray-tracing easier to implement, and uses Compute Shaders under the hood, for wide graphics card compatibility. NVIDIA feels that their "Volta" graphics architecture, has enough computational power on tap, to make real-time ray-tracing available to the masses. The company has hence collaborated with Microsoft to develop the NVIDIA RTX technology, as an interoperative part of the DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, along with a few turnkey effects, which will be made available through the company's next-generation GameWorks SDK program, under GameWorks Ray Tracing, as a ray-tracing denoiser module for the API.

Real-time ray-tracing has for long been regarded as a silver-bullet to get lifelike lighting, reflections, and shadows right. Ray-tracing is already big in the real-estate industry, for showcasing photorealistic interactive renderings of property under development, but has stayed away from gaming, that tends to be more intense, with larger scenes, more objects, and rapid camera movements. Movies with big production budgets use pre-rendered ray-tracing farms to render each frame. Movies have, hence, used ray-traced visual-effects for years now, since it's not interactive content, and its studios are willing to spend vast amounts of time and money to painstakingly render each frame using hundreds of rays per pixel.
Since using hundreds of rays per pixel at many frames per second is impractical from a performance standpoint, DXR will use many fewer rays per pixel and use clever tricks to optimize image quality. NVIDIA's RTX requires "Volta" (or later) GPUs, this technology won't wold on older architectures, not even "Pascal." From what we understand, the tensor cores in Volta are used to accelerate ray-tracing. Through a feature called "denoising", which uses fewer rays per pixel and fills in the remaining gaps using AI. Tensor cores can quickly train neural networks to reconstruct images, so real-time ray-tracing can be made possible. According to NVIDIA, RTX provides speedups of several hundred percent (ie, 2x, 3x faster) over the default DXR Compute Shader path.

DXR isn't NVIDIA-exclusive, even if NVIDIA made sure that the Microsoft DXR API is aware of RTX. NVIDIA has hence left it to Microsoft to support real-time ray tracing acceleration on older GPU architectures, presumably any architecture with DirectX 12 support.

NVIDIA RTX has two components - specialized hardware on the "Volta" GPU, and NVIDIA GameWorks Ray Tracing effects, that are standardized through DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API. NVIDIA "Volta" architecture is designed to support ray-tracing through a variety of interfaces, including DXR. Microsoft made DXR aware of NVIDIA's specialized hardware, which will accelerate GameWorks Ray Tracing effects, besides any proprietary effects that take advantage of DXR. It looks like RTX takes advantage of the tensor cores on "Volta" GPUs. These are specialized components NVIDIA originally designed to accelerate AI neural-net building and training. The company's Optix denoiser leverages AI, so we're sure that RTX relies on AI to get real-time ray-tracing accurate.
Among the turnkey GameWorks effects are Area Shadows, Glossy Reflections, and Ambient Occlusion (the ray-traced version). Early access to select developers begins now, with general availability coming soon. Game engine developers such as Epic Games (Unreal Engine), Unity, EA-DICE Frostbite, and Allegorithmic have expressed interest in NVIDIA RTX, along with developers from EA's various studios, Remedy Entertainment, and 4A Games.

The press-release follows.

NVIDIA today announced NVIDIA RTX, a ray-tracing technology that brings real-time, cinematic-quality rendering to content creators and game developers. NVIDIA RTX is the product of 10 years of work in computer graphics algorithms and GPU architectures. It consists of a highly scalable ray-tracing technology running on NVIDIA Volta architecture GPUs. Architected to support ray tracing through a variety of interfaces, NVIDIA partnered closely with Microsoft to enable full RTX support for applications that use Microsoft's new DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API.

Long considered the definitive solution for realistic and lifelike lighting, reflections and shadows, ray tracing offers a level of realism far beyond what is possible using traditional rendering techniques. Real-time ray tracing replaces a majority of the techniques used today in standard rendering with realistic optical calculations that replicate the way light behaves in the real world, delivering more lifelike images.

"Real-time ray tracing has been a dream of the graphics industry and game developers for decades, and NVIDIA RTX is bringing it to life," said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. "GPUs are only now becoming power enough to deliver real-time ray tracing for gaming applications, and will usher in a new era of next-generation visuals."

Ray tracing has been used for years to pre-render lifelike worlds in movies. But until now, it has been too computationally demanding to be practical for real-time, interactive gaming, which requires fast frame rates and low latency. NVIDIA RTX overcomes those limitations.

Broad Industry Support
"DirectX Raytracing is the latest example of Microsoft's commitment toward enabling developers to create incredible experiences using cutting-edge graphics innovations," said Max McMullen, development manager of Windows Graphics and AI at Microsoft. "Our close partnership with NVIDIA on DirectX Raytracing and NVIDIA's RTX technology brings real-time ray tracing closer than ever for millions of gamers on Windows."

Industry leaders such as 4A Games, Epic, Remedy Entertainment and Unity are featuring NVIDIA RTX in their technology demonstrations at this week's Game Developers Conference, in San Francisco. They are showing how real-time ray tracing can provide amazing, lifelike graphics in future games. And because RTX supports Microsoft DirectX Raytracing, the groundbreaking technology will be enjoyed by Windows users everywhere.

"The availability of NVIDIA RTX opens the door to make real-time ray tracing a reality," said Kim Libreri, chief technology officer at Epic Games. "By making such powerful technology available to the game development community with the support of the new DirectX Raytracing API, NVIDIA is the driving force behind the next generation of game and movie graphics."

"Integrating NVIDIA RTX into our Northlight engine was a relatively straightforward exercise," said Mikko Orrenmaa, technology team manager at Remedy Entertainment. "Developing exclusively on NVIDIA RTX, we were surprised just how quickly we were able to prototype new lighting, reflection and ambient occlusion techniques, with significantly better visual fidelity than traditional rasterization techniques. We are really excited about what we can achieve in the future with the NVIDIA RTX technology. Gamers are in for something special."

Introducing GameWorks for Ray Tracing
To allow game developers to take advantage of these new capabilities, NVIDIA also announced the NVIDIA GameWorks SDK will add a ray-tracing denoiser module. This suite of tools and resources for developers will dramatically increase realism and shorten product cycles in 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-traces 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. Making these capabilities available on an industry-standard platform like Microsoft DXR means every PC game developer will have access to levels of realism never before possible.
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39 Comments on Microsoft Releases DirectX Raytracing - NVIDIA Volta-based RTX Adds Real-Time Capability

#1
the54thvoid
So, indirect confirmation that the consumer Volta will be keeping the Tensor cores.... Quite surprised by that.
Posted on Reply
#2
Shihabyooo
*Sigh* At least the tech has is standardized in the API. We might actually see it in more than one or two titles.

Also, wait, Allegorithmic are "game engine" devs?
I know they make material editors and texturing tools, but an entire engine?

the54thvoid, post: 3815550, member: 79251"
So, indirect confirmation that the consumer Volta will be keeping the Tensor cores.... Quite surprised by that.
Please tell me that use of words was unintended...
:roll:
Posted on Reply
#3
the54thvoid
Shihabyooo, post: 3815552, member: 91709"
*Sigh* At least the tech has is standardized in the API. We might actually see it in more than one or two titles.

Also, wait, Allegorithmic are "game engine" devs?
I know they make material editors and texturing tools, but an entire engine?



Please tell me that use of words was unintended...
:roll:
Actually, no. There was much speculation about the Titan Volta card not being the same as consumer Volta. It was thought by some, myself included, that the Tensor Cores with AI leaning would have little use in gaming (even though compute is required). Nvidia have released no information about consumer cards using Volta, therefore it is techically an indirect confirmation about the architecture of the consumer Volta card. Direct would be - "hey, look at our new card with this and that". This is a PR anouncement about RTX on an upcoming line without specifying specs, so I call it 'indirect'.


Update from Hexus:

AMD collaboration
HEXUS received an email bulletin from AMD about its own work on Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API. It said that it was "closely collaborating with Microsoft," on the future of the API. More specifically it is helping to "define, refine and support the future of DirectX12 and ray tracing". Without mentioning any of its own hardware/software technologies, AMD said that it "remains at the forefront of new programming model and application programming interface (API) innovation based on a forward-looking, system-level foundation for graphics programming." AMD hinted that it would have more to share about PC-based ray tracing techniques in the future.
http://hexus.net/tech/news/graphics/116354-amd-nvidia-working-closely-microsoft-dxr-api/
Posted on Reply
#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Pretty sure the tensor cores aren't useful for raytracing. It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip. You literally can't have too many TFLOPS when doing real time ray tracing.
Posted on Reply
#6
Vayra86
Well these are some nice new effects to kill performance on 4K now aren't they :)

Inb4 the resurrection of 1080p
Posted on Reply
#7
jabbadap
FordGT90Concept, post: 3815568, member: 60463"
Pretty sure the tensor cores aren't useful for raytracing. It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip. You literally can't have too many TFLOPS when doing real time ray tracing.
Well according to Anandtech it needs special HW for HW DXR, which are in Volta but not in pre-Volta chips. SW DXR is done with fallback to directcompute shaders so every dx12 capable gpu can run it.
For today’s reveal, NVIDIA is simultaneously announcing that they will support hardware acceleration of DXR through their new RTX Technology. RTX in turn combines previously-unannounced Volta architecture ray tracing features with optimized software routines to provide a complete DXR backend, while pre-Volta cards will use the DXR shader-based fallback option.
Posted on Reply
#8
TristanX
No word about refractions, visually most appealing RT feature, but technically also hardest.
Are there any videos, how this work ?
Posted on Reply
#9
sith'ari
the54thvoid, post: 3815556, member: 79251"
................................................................................
AMD collaboration
HEXUS received an email bulletin from AMD about its own work on Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API. It said that it was "closely collaborating with Microsoft," on the future of the API. More specifically it is helping to "define, refine and support the future of DirectX12 and ray tracing". Without mentioning any of its own hardware/software technologies, AMD said that it "remains at the forefront of new programming model and application programming interface (API) innovation based on a forward-looking, system-level foundation for graphics programming." AMD hinted that it would have more to share about PC-based ray tracing techniques in the future.
One small detail:
Microsoft so far has only verified NVidia's project , so AMD's statement can be considered a little , ehmm.... " premature ":rolleyes: ....at best !!! (*hype at worst !!)
"DirectX Raytracing is the latest example of Microsoft's commitment toward enabling developers to create incredible experiences using cutting-edge graphics innovations," said Max McMullen, development manager of Windows Graphics and AI at Microsoft. "Our close partnership with NVIDIA on DirectX Raytracing and NVIDIA's RTX technology brings real-time ray tracing closer than ever for millions of gamers on Windows."
Posted on Reply
#10
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
jabbadap, post: 3815588, member: 148195"
Well according to Anandtech it needs special HW for HW DXR, which are in Volta but not in pre-Volta chips. SW DXR is done with fallback to directcompute shaders so every dx12 capable gpu can run it.
I think consumer Volta will have an RTX region on the die that replaces the tensor cores. It's proprietary that does RTRT, AO, glossy reflections, etc. Basically hardware for shaders. Apparently E3 will fully disclose what it does.
Posted on Reply
#11
Shamalamadingdong
jabbadap, post: 3815588, member: 148195"
Well according to Anandtech it needs special HW for HW DXR, which are in Volta but not in pre-Volta chips. SW DXR is done with fallback to directcompute shaders so every dx12 capable gpu can run it.
A new backend does not equal tensor cores though. They talk about implementing a ray tracing engine in the backend. Consumer cards are unlikely to see tensor cores in anything but top tier cards like Titan or perhaps Ti so it would be a futile announcement if tensor cores was the requirement. Instead tensor cores can assist with certain tasks. That's an important distinction.
Posted on Reply
#12
jabbadap
Shamalamadingdong, post: 3815607, member: 165511"
A new backend does not equal tensor cores though. They talk about implementing a ray tracing engine in the backend. Consumer cards are unlikely to see tensor cores in anything but top tier cards like Titan or perhaps Ti so it would be a futile announcement if tensor cores was the requirement. Instead tensor cores can assist with certain tasks. That's an important distinction.
Well of course not and that I agree: other than using tensors for DL denoising algo there's little use for them on ray tracing. But I don't think is correct to say: "It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip." It's not the crapload of TFlops needed, it's the actual new HW feature to make it really fly. Afaik looking in beyond3d there's some bloke running EAs DXR ray traced Seed - pica pica demo with nvidia laptop gpu so obviously with SW DXR.

On the other hand I wonder what Imtec stand on this is. They have had special hw for ray tracing on their power GR6500 gpu since 2016. Is it compatible with DXR or not.
Posted on Reply
#13
Shamalamadingdong
jabbadap, post: 3815623, member: 148195"
Well of course not and that I agree: other than using tensors for DL denoising algo there's little use for them on ray tracing. But I don't think is correct to say: "It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip." It's not the crapload of TFlops needed, it's the actual new HW feature to make it really fly. Afaik looking in beyond3d there's some bloke running EAs DXR ray traced Seed - pica pica demo with nvidia laptop gpu so obviously with SW DXR.

On the other hand I wonder what Imtec stand on this is. They have had special hw for ray tracing on their power GR6500 gpu since 2016. Is it compatible with DXR or not.

I think Imagination having the tech is pretty moot. They're in dire straits and I'm not aware of any DX applications being run on a powerVR chip. I mean they might be able to implement support through a software update but does it matter if the applications won't run on the hardware?
Posted on Reply
#14
Assimilator
FordGT90Concept, post: 3815568, member: 60463"
Pretty sure the tensor cores aren't useful for raytracing. It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip. You literally can't have too many TFLOPS when doing real time ray tracing.
Huh? bta posted:
From what we understand, the tensor cores in Volta are used to accelerate ray-tracing. Through a feature called "denoising", which uses fewer rays per pixel and fills in the remaining gaps using AI. Tensor cores can quickly train neural networks to reconstruct images, so real-time ray-tracing can be made possible.
Essentially they're supposedly using the Tensor cores to interpolate the missing rays.
Posted on Reply
#15
Upgrayedd
All those articles and rumors about Nvidia skipping Volta...remember, official statements only.

So much news was written about Nvidia skipping Volta like it was a sure thing.
Posted on Reply
#16
dyonoctis
Shihabyooo, post: 3815552, member: 91709"
*Sigh* At least the tech has is standardized in the API. We might actually see it in more than one or two titles.

Also, wait, Allegorithmic are "game engine" devs?
I know they make material editors and texturing tools, but an entire engine?



Please tell me that use of words was unintended...
:roll:
I think that allegorithmic is more interested in this for the real time preview of it's software, it will give more accurate results.
But man Nvidia was already a must have because of cuda in this area, and now this...open cl get no love at all, even on osx the dev would rather work with metal.
Posted on Reply
#17
megamanxtreme
This I want for as a secondary thing, first is higher quality textures and tessellation/bump maps.
Posted on Reply
#18
Xzibit
Assimilator, post: 3815635, member: 7058"
Huh? bta posted:



Essentially they're supposedly using the Tensor cores to interpolate the missing rays.
Anandtech
Meanwhile NVIDIA also mentioned that they have the ability to leverage Volta's tensor cores in an indirect manner, accelerating ray tracing by doing AI denoising, where a neural network could be trained to reconstruct an image using fewer rays, a technology the company has shown off in the past at GTC.
Posted on Reply
#19
Vya Domus
Sounds really interesting , I am just afraid it will get buried under the Gameworks banner as shovelware.

FordGT90Concept, post: 3815598, member: 60463"
I think consumer Volta will have an RTX region on the die that replaces the tensor cores.
I am doubtful they will go as far so to re-engineer the chip to add dedicated silicon just to be used for a single type of software.

the54thvoid, post: 3815556, member: 79251"
It was thought by some, myself included, that the Tensor Cores with AI leaning would have little use in gaming (even though compute is required).
FordGT90Concept, post: 3815568, member: 60463"
Pretty sure the tensor cores aren't useful for raytracing. It just requires a crapload of TFLOPS and Volta is a really big chip. You literally can't have too many TFLOPS when doing real time ray tracing.
Tensor cores are mixed precision , on top of that they are very memory bound operations. You need to send a considerable amount of batched/vectorized data which results in massive CPU overhead. Essentially if they do use Tensor cores to speed this up , the diminishing returns of doing so will be massive.
Posted on Reply
#20
bug
The good news is only part of this is locked behing GameWorks and RTX will be widely available.
The bad news is Vulkan, the open and cross-platfom alternative is once again lagging behind.
Posted on Reply
#21
Steevo
bug, post: 3815720, member: 157434"
The good news is only part of this is locked behing GameWorks and RTX will be widely available.
The bad news is Vulkan, the open and cross-platfom alternative is once again lagging behind.
I don't expect to see much more out of Vulcan, honestly it pushed DX to implement some features AMD needed, and then Nvidia crushed them on.
Posted on Reply
#23
dicktracy
The real question is: does Titan V have this new hardware? lol
Posted on Reply
#24
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
I suspect not because it has the tensor cores being directly related to the Tesla hardware.
Posted on Reply
#25
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Just to abandon it like physx/sli...
Posted on Reply
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