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Nvidia has a ton of ray tracing announcements from GDC

Nvidia, Microsoft, Epic Games, Unity, and leading developers are making the jump toward the future of gaming.

  • Text: Ben Lyons

During one of the many talks at the San Francisco Game Developer Conference (GDC) yesterday, gaming tech giant Nvidia announced several developments that will reinforce their GPUs as the best core platform for game developers to add real-time ray tracing effects to games, something we've already seen with the likes of Battlefield V.


Building upon Microsoft's DirectX Ray Tracing system (DXR) and how important it is in the gaming ecosystem, the announcements included the integration of real-time ray tracing into Unreal Engine and Unity, Nvidia adding ray tracing support to GeForce GTX GPUs, the introduction of a new toolset and rendering techniques that will help developers add ray tracing to games called the Nvidia GameWorks RTX, and a host of new games to showcase the real-time ray tracing effect in all its glory.

These new ray tracing additions in game engines should speed up the development process for developers as well as being accessible to anyone who uses the platform. Matt Wuebbling, head of GeForce marketing at Nvidia, said: "When programmable shaders were introduced more than 15 years ago, they changed gaming forever. Today real-time ray tracing is set to do the same thing - it represents the next landmark shift in game development". He later went on to talk about how impressive the industry has been at adopting these new technological additions, before finishing with: "it all points to an exciting future for gamers".

The Unity engine will go live with the full optimised ray tracing support on April 4, but the release date for Unreal Engine's update will likely be announced during Epic's keynote on Wednesday. Both engines will support the GameWorks RTX toolset for helping developers add real-time ray tracing.

Other notable first party AAA engines that will also be offering real-time ray tracing include - but are not limited to - the Frostbite engine from DICE/EA and the Northlight engine from Remedy Entertainment.

Whilst this all seems a little confusing in places, it's worth noting that GeForce RTX GPUs with dedicated ray tracing cores will operate two to three times faster than a standard GPU with regards to delivering the ultimate ray tracing experience. Likewise, Nvidia and Unity will be working together to bring their advanced real-time ray tracing systems to industries outside of gaming, such as the automotive industry.

Finally, some of the upcoming titles that are being developed to show real-time ray tracing will be Control from Remedy Entertainment, Dragonhound (a new online action RPG monster battle game), and a special edition of Quake II that's been modified to support real-time ray tracing with the usage of VKRay, a Vulkan extension that allows developers to add ray-traced effects to their games.

Be sure to keep an eye out on Wednesday for information about Unreal Engine's real-time ray tracing compatibility, and take a look at Crytek's Neon Noir ray tracing demo too.

How important do you think real-time ray tracing will be to the advancement of gaming tech?