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NVIDIA Also Releases Tech Demos for RTX: Star Wars, Atomic Heart, Justice Available for Download

We've seen NVIDIA's move to provide RTX effects on older, non-RT capable hardware today being met with what the company was certainly expecting: a cry of dismay from users that now get to see exactly what their non-Turing NVIDIA hardware is capable of. The move from NVIDIA could be framed as a way to democratize access to RTX effects via Windows DXR, enabling users of its GTX 1600 and 1000 series of GPUs to take a look at the benefits of raytracing; but also as an upgrade incentive for those that now see how their performance is lacking without the new specialized Turing cores to handle the added burden.

Whatever your side of the fence on that issue, however, NVIDIA has provided users with one more raytraced joy today. Three of them, in fact, in the form of three previously-shown tech demos. The Star Wars tech demo (download) is the most well known, certainly, with its studies on reflections on Captain Phasma's breastplate. Atomic Heart (download) is another one that makes use of RTX for reflections and shadows, while Justice (download) adds caustics to that equation. If you have a Turing graphics card, you can test these demos in their full glory, with added DLSS for improved performance. If you're on Pascal, you won't have that performance-enhancing mode available, and will have to slog it through software computations. Follow the embedded links for our direct downloads of these tech demos.

NVIDIA Extends DirectX Raytracing (DXR) Support to Many GeForce GTX GPUs

NVIDIA today announced that it is extending DXR (DirectX Raytracing) support to several GeForce GTX graphics models beyond its GeForce RTX series. These include the GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1660, GTX 1080 Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060 6 GB. The GTX 1060 3 GB and lower "Pascal" models don't support DXR, nor do older generations of NVIDIA GPUs. NVIDIA has implemented real-time raytracing on GPUs without specialized components such as RT cores or tensor cores, by essentially implementing the rendering path through shaders, in this case, CUDA cores. DXR support will be added through a new GeForce graphics driver later today.

The GPU's CUDA cores now have to calculate BVR, intersection, reflection, and refraction. The GTX 16-series chips have an edge over "Pascal" despite lacking RT cores, as the "Turing" CUDA cores support concurrent INT and FP execution, allowing more work to be done per clock. NVIDIA in a detailed presentation listed out the kinds of real-time ray-tracing effects available by the DXR API, namely reflections, shadows, advanced reflections and shadows, ambient occlusion, global illumination (unbaked), and combinations of these. The company put out detailed performance numbers for a selection of GTX 10-series and GTX 16-series GPUs, and compared them to RTX 20-series SKUs that have specialized hardware for DXR.
Update: Article updated with additional test data from NVIDIA.

NVIDIA to Enable DXR Ray Tracing on GTX (10- and 16-series) GPUs in April Drivers Update

NVIDIA had their customary GTC keynote ending mere minutes ago, and it was one of the longer keynotes clocking in at nearly three hours in length. There were some fascinating demos and features shown off, especially in the realm of robotics and machine learning, as well as new hardware as it pertains to AI and cars with the all-new Jetson Nano. It would be fair to say, however, that the vast majority of the keynote was targeting developers and researchers, as usually is the case at GTC. However, something came up in between which caught us by surprise, and no doubt is a pleasant update to most of us here on TechPowerUp.

Following AMD's claims on software-based real-time ray tracing in games, and Crytek's Neon Noir real-time ray tracing demo for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, it makes sense in hindsight that NVIDIA would allow rudimentary DXR ray tracing support to older hardware that do not support RT cores. In particular, an upcoming drivers update next month will allow DXR support for 10-series Pascal-microarchitecture graphics cards (GTX 1060 6 GB and higher), as well as the newly announced GTX 16-series Turing-microarchitecture GPUs (GTX 1660, GTX 1660 Ti). The announcement comes with a caveat letting people know to not expect RTX support (think lower number of ray traces, and possibly no secondary/tertiary effects), and this DXR mode will only be supported in Unity and Unreal game engines for now. More to come, with details past the break.

Unreal Engine Gets a Host of Real-Time Raytracing Features

Epic Games wants a slice of next-generation NVIDIA GameWorks titles that are bound to leverage the RTX feature-set of its hardware. The latest version of Unreal Engine 4, released as a preview-build, comes with a host of real-time ray-tracing features. In its change-log for Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview, Epic describes its real-time ray-tracing feature to be a "low level layer on top of UE DirectX 12 that provides support for DXR and allows creating and using ray tracing shaders (ray generation shaders, hit shaders, etc) to add ray tracing effects."

The hardware being reference here are the RT cores found in NVIDIA's "Turing RTX" GPUs. At the high-level, Unreal Engine 4 will support close to two dozen features that leverage DXR, including a denoiser for shadows, reflections, and ambient occlusion; rectangular area lights, soft shadows, ray-traced reflections and AO, real-time global illumination, translucency, triangular meshes, and path-tracing. We could see Unreal Engine 4.22 get "stable" towards the end of 2019, to enable DXR-ready games of 2020.

Battlefield V Gets NVIDIA DLSS Support

Battlefield V became the first AAA title to support NVIDIA Deep-learning Supersampling or DLSS, a new-generation image-quality enhancement feature exclusive to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards, since it requires tensor cores. The feature was introduced as part of its comprehensive Battlefield V Chapter 2: Lightning Strikes Update late Tuesday. To use it, DXR must be enabled in the game. In its release notes for the update, EA-DICE describes DLSS as a feature "which uses deep learning to improve game performance while maintaining visual quality." The developers also improved the way the deploy screen displays on ultrawide monitors on the PC, particularly with the "Rotterdam" map.

Update: We have posted an article, taking a closer look at the DLSS implementation in Battlefield V.

AMD Radeon VII Detailed Some More: Die-size, Secret-sauce, Ray-tracing, and More

AMD pulled off a surprise at its CES 2019 keynote address, with the announcement of the Radeon VII client-segment graphics card targeted at gamers. We went hands-on with the card earlier this week. The company revealed a few more technical details of the card in its press-deck for the card. To begin with, the company talks about the immediate dividends of switching from 14 nm to 7 nm, with a reduction in die-size from 495 mm² on the "Vega 10" silicon to 331 mm² on the new "Vega 20" silicon. The company has reworked the die to feature a 4096-bit wide HBM2 memory interface, the "Vega 20" MCM now features four 32 Gbit HBM2 memory stacks, which make up the card's 16 GB of memory. The memory clock has been dialed up to 1000 MHz from 945 MHz on the RX Vega 64, which when coupled with the doubled bus-width, works out to a phenomenal 1 TB/s memory bandwidth.

We know from AMD's late-2018 announcement of the Radeon Instinct MI60 machine-learning accelerator based on the same silicon that "Vega 20" features a total of 64 NGCUs (next-generation compute units). To carve out the Radeon VII, AMD disabled 4 of these, resulting in an NGCU count of 60, which is halfway between the RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64, resulting in a stream-processor count of 3,840. The reduced NGCU count could help AMD harvest the TSMC-built 7 nm GPU die better. AMD is attempting to make up the vast 44 percent performance gap between the RX Vega 64 and the GeForce RTX 2080 with a combination of factors.

3DMark Port Royal Ray-tracing Benchmark Release Date and Pricing Revealed

UL Benchmarks released more information on pricing and availability of its upcoming addition to the 3DMark benchmark suite, named "Port Royal." The company revealed that the benchmark will officially launch on January 8, 2019. The Port Royal upgrade will cost existing 3DMark paid (Advanced and Professional) users USD $2.99. 3DMark Advanced purchased from January 8th onward at $29.99 will include Port Royal. 3DMark Port Royal is an extreme-segment 3D graphics benchmark leveraging DirectX 12 and DirectX Raytracing (DXR). UL Benchmarks stated that Port Royal was developed with inputs from industry giants including NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and Microsoft.

DICE Prepares "Battlefield V" RTX/DXR Performance Patch: Up to 50% FPS Gains

EA-DICE and NVIDIA earned a lot of bad press last month, when performance numbers for "Battlefield V" with DirectX Raytracing (DXR) were finally out. Gamers were disappointed to see that DXR inflicts heavy performance penalties, with 4K UHD gameplay becoming out of bounds even for the $1,200 GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and acceptable frame-rates only available on 1080p resolution. DICE has since been tirelessly working to rework its real-time raytracing implementation so performance is improved. Tomorrow (4th December), the studio will release a patch to "Battlefield V," a day ahead of its new Tides of War: Overture and new War Story slated for December 5th. This patch could be a game-changer for GeForce RTX users.

NVIDIA has been closely working with EA-DICE on this new patch, which NVIDIA claims improves the game's frame-rates with DXR enabled by "up to 50 percent." The patch enables RTX 2080 Ti users to smoothly play "Battlefield V" with DXR at 1440p resolution, with frame-rates over 60 fps, and DXR Reflections set to "Ultra." RTX 2080 (non-Ti) users should be able to play the game at 1440p with over 60 fps, if the DXR Reflections toggle is set at "Medium." RTX 2070 users can play the game at 1080p, with over 60 fps, and the toggle set to "Medium." NVIDIA states that it is continuing to work with DICE to improve DXR performance even further, which will take the shape of future game patches and driver updates.
A video presentation by NVIDIA follows.

Battlefield V with RTX Initial Tests: Performance Halved

Having survived an excruciatingly slow patch update, we are testing "Battlefield V" with DirectX Ray-tracing and NVIDIA RTX enabled, across the GeForce RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti, augmenting the RTX-on test data to our Battlefield V Performance Analysis article. We began testing with a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card with GeForce 416.94 WHQL drivers on Windows 10 1809. Our initial test results are shocking. With RTX enabled in the "ultra" setting, frame-rates dropped by close to 50% at 1080p.

These may look horrifying, given that at its highest setting, even an RTX 2080 Ti isn't able to manage 1080p 120 Hz. But all is not lost. DICE added granularity to RTX. You can toggle between off, low, medium, high, and ultra as "degrees" of RTX level of detail, under the "DXR ray-traced reflections quality" setting. We are currently working on 27 new data-points (each of the RTX 20-series graphics cards, at each level of RTX, and at each of the three resolutions we tested at).

Update: Our full performance analysis article is live now, including results for RTX 2070, 2080, 2080 Ti, each at RTX off/low/medium/high/ultra.

Battlefield V System Requirements Outed: Ryzen 7 2700 or i7 8700 as Recommended CPUs

The official system requirements for the upcoming Battlefield V game have been outed, and there are three categories of such requirements now: Minimum, Recommended, and DXR. The minimum requirements are pretty steep as they are: DICE say at least an AMD FX-8350 or an i5 6600K CPU are required, alongside 8 GB of system RAM (on the graphics front, a GTX 1050 / RX 560 are mentioned).

The recommended system requirements do bring some interesting tables to the mix, though, with AMD's Ryzen 3 1300X and Intel's i7 4790 being hailed as good CPUs for the configuration. This is in stark contrast with the minimum requirements, but here's the gist: it appears that Battlefield V will be a well-paralellized game, though it will also require strong per-core performance (hence why the FX-8350 doesn't make the cut, and why a previous-gen i7 is higher on the list than the 6000 series i5 from Intel). Minimum RAM for the Recommended spec stands at a whopping 12 GB, though - I believe this is the highest I've ever seen for a game release. An RX 580 or a GTX 1060 round out the specs.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 416.16 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA released its first GeForce software suite since Windows 10 October 2018 went official. The new GeForce 416.16 WHQL drivers add full support for the new operating system, including WDDM 2.5, and DirectX Ray-Tracing (DXR), which are essential for NVIDIA RTX to work. The drivers also add SLI profiles for a large number of games, including "Battlefield V," "Basingstroke," "Divinity: Original Sin II," "Immortal: Unchained," "Jurassic World Evolution," "Phoenix Point," and "Seven: The Days Long Gone." 3DVision profiles are added for "The Elder Scrolls: Online."

A small number of bugs are also fixed with this release. "Pascal" GPUs running "Quake HD remix" no longer experience black square glitches. Temporal AA sharp drops in performance with GeForce GTX 1060 running "Rainbow 6: Siege" has been fixed. Driver errors on TITAN Xp when waking up from S4 sleep have been fixed. Lastly, an issue found with "Turing" GPUs not exposing Netflix 4K mode to displays connected over USB-C, has been fixed. Grab the driver from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 416.16 WHQL

The change-log follows.

Windows 10 October 2018 Update Starts Rolling Out

Microsoft began rolling out Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) through its regular update channels. The update introduces several improvements to the operating system's user interface, expand on its Timeline features that let you pick up your work where you left off, and comes with a boatload of under the hood performance improvements relevant to PC enthusiasts and gamers. These include the latest update to DirectX that adds DirectX Ray-tracing API features (DXR), the latest version of WDDM, and native HDR standards management settings via Display Settings. To get it, simply make Windows check for updates.
The change-log follows.

NVIDIA's 20-series Could be Segregated via Lack of RTX Capabilities in Lower-tier Cards

NVIDIA's Turing-based RTX 20-series graphics cards have been announced to begin shipping on the 20th of September. Their most compelling argument for users to buy them is the leap in ray-tracing performance, enabled by the integration of hardware-based acceleration via RT cores that have been added to NVIDIA's core design. NVIDIA has been pretty bullish as to how this development reinvents graphics as we know it, and are quick to point out the benefits of this approach against other, shader-based approximations of real, physics-based lighting. In a Q&A at the Citi 2018 Global Technology Conference, NVIDIA's Colette Kress expounded on their new architecture's strengths - but also touched upon a possible segmentation of graphics cards by raytracing capabilities.

During that Q&A, NVIDIA's Colette Kress put Turing's performance at a cool 2x improvement over their 10-series graphics cards, discounting any raytracing performance uplift - and when raytracing is indeed brought into consideration, she said performance has increased by up to 6x compared to NVIDIA's last generation. There's some interesting wording when it comes to NVIDIA's 20-series lineup, though; as Kress puts it, "We'll start with the ray-tracing cards. We have the 2080 Ti, the 2080 and the 2070 overall coming to market," which, in context, seems to point out towards a lack of raytracing hardware in lower-tier graphics cards (apparently, those based on the potential TU106 silicon and lower-level variants).

DICE to Dial Back Ray-tracing Eye-candy in Battlefield V to Favor Performance

EA-DICE, in an interview with Tom's Hardware, put out some juicy under-the-hood details about the PC release of "Battlefield V." The most prominent of these would be that the commercial release of the game will slightly dial back on the ray-tracing eye-candy we saw at NVIDIA's GeForce RTX launch event demo. DICE is rather conservative about its implementation of ray-tracing, and seems to assure players that the lack of it won't make a tangible difference to the game's production design, and will certainly not affect gameplay (eg: you won't be at a competitive disadvantage just because a squeaky clean car in the middle of a warzone won't reflect an enemy sniper's glint accurately).

"What I think that we will do is take a pass on the levels and see if there is something that sticks out," said Christian Holmquist, technical director at DICE. "Because the materials are not tweaked for ray tracing, but sometimes they may show off something that's too strong or something that was not directly intended. But otherwise we won't change the levels-they'll be as they are. And then we might need to change some parameters in the ray tracing engine itself to maybe tone something down a little bit," he added. Throughout the game's levels and maps, DICE identified objects and elements that could hit framerates hard when ray-tracing is enabled, and "dialed-down" ray-tracing for those assets. For example, a wall located in some level (probably a glass mosaic wall), hit performance too hard, and the developers had to tone down its level of detail.

UL's Raytracing Benchmark Not Based on Time Spy, Completely New Development

After we've covered news of UL's (previously known as 3D Mark) move to include a raytracing benchmark mode on Time Spy, the company has contacted us and other members of the press to clarify their message and intentions. As it stands, the company will not be updating their Time Spy testing suite with Raytracing technologies. Part of the reason is that this would need an immense rewrite of the benchmark itself, which would be counterproductive - and this leads to the rest of the reason why it's not so: such a significant change would invalidate previous results that didn't have the Raytracing mode activated.

As such, UL has elected to develop a totally new benchmark, built from the ground up to use Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing (DXR). This new benchmark will be added to the 3D Mark app as an update. The new test will produce its own benchmarking scores, very much like Fire Strike and Time Spy did, and will provide users with yet another ladder to climb on their way to the top of the benchmarking scene. Other details are scarce - which makes sense. But the test should still be available on or around the time of NVIDIA's 20-series launch, come September 20th.
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