Raytracing explained: Nvidia, Microsoft lead the way in revolutionizing gaming graphics

 In 3d, DirectX, GPU, graphics, microsoft, nvidia, Tech, Windows

Raytracing explained: Nvidia, Microsoft lead the way in revolutionizing gaming graphics

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Enlarge / This image from EA’s SEED group shows off realistic shadows and reflections, and it highlights DXR. (credit: Project PICA PICA from SEED, Electronic Arts)

The announcement today of Nvidia’s new GPUs with integrated acceleration of raytracing makes Microsoft’s plans for DirectX even more relevant. Raytracing gives developers access to a wide range of effects that the current mainstream approach (rasterization) handles poorly. Shadows, reflections, and glass are all set to look much more realistic.

At GDC, Microsoft announced a new feature for DirectX 12: DirectX Raytracing (DXR). The new API offers hardware-accelerated raytracing to DirectX applications, ushering in a new era of games with more realistic lighting, shadows, and materials. One day, this technology could enable the kinds of photorealistic imagery that we’ve become accustomed to in Hollywood blockbusters.

Whatever GPU you have, whether it be Nvidia’s monstrous $3,000 Titan V or the little integrated thing in your $35 Raspberry Pi, the basic principles are the same; indeed, while many aspects of GPUs have changed since 3D accelerators first emerged in the 1990s, they’ve all been based on a common principle: rasterization.

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Nvidia’s RTX announcement is a huge technological advance for gamers.

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