It’s not the kind of technology that you’d be able to drop into your desktop computer. But NVIDIA this morning used the annual SIGGRAPH conference to unveil a new architecture for its real-time ray-tracing GPUs, Turing. They also mentioned a bunch of companies and developers who were already using Nvidia’s specialist dev platform for ray tracing, AI and simulation – which happens to include the makers of Quantum Break and the upcoming Control, Remedy Entertainment.
With the announcement of Turing – and the next generation of Quadro workstation GPUs – and Nvidia published a post outlining some of the first adopters. The basic pitch of Turing is dedicated hardware acceleration of things like programmable shaders, ray tracing, AI and so on.
Real-time ray tracing is being upheld as the next major advancement for computer graphics, which will flow into CGI and video games within the next five to ten years. For an indication of what that actually looks like in practice, here’s a couple of examples:
Three companies stood out from a gaming context: EA, specifically the team working on the self-learning AI agents; Epic Games, namely for the ray-tracing functionality that’s being built into future versions of the Unreal Engine; and Remedy Entertainment, makers of Quantum Break.
Here’s the snippet from NVIDIA about what each of the companies are doing:
Remedy Entertainment: Creators of cinematic blockbuster action games that break media boundaries and push the envelope of 3D character technology and visual effects. Remedy has been researching how to utilise the NVIDIA RTX ray tracing technology and the DXR API in its Northlight engine.
Epic Games’ Unreal Engine: Complete suite of tools for the creation of games, visualisations, interactive product designs, movies, broadcast entertainment and immersive experiences. Unreal Engine is using NVIDIA RTX technology through DXR to achieve industry-leading real-time ray tracing performance.
EA SEED: Cross-disciplinary team within EA Worldwide Studios whose Project PICA PICA is a real-time raytracing experiment featuring a mini-game for self-learning AI agents in a procedurally-assembled world. The approaches inspire developers and provide a glimpse of a future where real-time raytracing powers the creative experiences of tomorrow.
Out of the three, and particularly since they’re working with DirectX ray-tracing API as well, it gives people another reason to keep an eye on Control.
Remedy has had a long history with cutting-edge graphics – the early tests in the 3DMark benchmark suite were based off an early version of the engine that would later power Max Payne, and Quantum Break utilised an interesting tech where it recreates the final image by upscaling and feeding in information from previous frames. (You can disable this upscaling technique on PC, although you’d better have a high-end rig before doing so.)
In any case, it’s interesting to keep in mind. Control is due out sometime next year, barring delays. As for the Quadro RTX ray-tracing GPUs – the Quadro RTX 5000, 6000 and 8000 – they’ll ship in the final quarter of 2018, with the RTX 5000 expected to sell for approximately $US2300, the RTX 6000 at $US6,300, and around $US10,000 for the RTX 8000.