Friday, 19 April, 2019

Ray Tracing comes to regular GTX cards... Kinda

Nvidia Delivers Ray Tracing Driver for Previous-Gen Pascal Cards, New Demos NVIDIA GeForce Game Ready Driver Now Supports RTX on GTX Cards – Performance Benchmarks in RTX Titles Unveiled, GTX 1660 Ti As Fast As GTX 1080
Cecil Davis | 15 April, 2019, 00:16

NVIDIA has released the Game Ready Driver 425.31 WHQL which enables ray tracing for GeForce GTX graphics cards - a capability previously reserved for the company's RTX series of graphics cards. The RTX series of GPUs have since gone on sale, and come with the Ray-Tracing technology that enables real time reflections on the surfaces of objects. Nvidia has made a new Game Ready Driver available for download right now.

As there are quite a number of ray tracing technique being implemented in different RTX games, not all of them will behave the same. That managed 8.5fps in Metro Exodus and 24fps in Tomb Raider - the latter nearly matching the GTX 1080's 25fps - but overall, these figures will hardly bowl you over.

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.

The whole concept of real-time Ray Tracing was announced when Nvidia unveiled the top tier RTX 20 Series GPUs.

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Depending on the game and the complexity of the ray tracing it uses, faster GTX hardware is sometimes viable. In these games you will not be aiming to run "Ultra DXR" settings if you are sporting a GTX 10 or GTX 16 card so that will of course help you to enjoy some DXR at acceptable performance levels dependent upon your PC config. So particularly impressive effects like RT global illumination and accurate ambient occlusion are out, however cheap reflections (which are always a crowd pleaser) are more attainable. DLSS requires Nvidia's Tensor cores, which are not present on the GTX 10 or GTX 16 GPUs. Can a GTX 1060 6GB really ray trace? Also, NVIDIA already said that performance would be poor, but now can see exactly how much they accelerate those effects compared to the older cards.

All of this might make ray tracing on GTX graphics cards seem pointless, and largely it is. Here's the data they shared with us, but note that this is obviously created to show how its RTX GPUs are better at this, and is not benchmark charts showing the basic ray tracing they are launching today.

Aside from the existing Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Battlefield V titles that make use of ray tracing in various ways, there are now three additional demos available to the general public: Justice and the often-shown Star Wars Reflections demo will be available on GeForce.com, and Atomic Heart will be available from the publisher. At the very least, you'll be able to see what the effect is like at home, on your own display, before investing in expensive new hardware. Here is the official list of GPUs supported with the new driver update. Still, it will likely be many years before DXR becomes a required feature in games.

Want to try ray-tracing with your GPU now?