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Nvidia's RTX

The Geforce 20 series is the new RTX family of GPUs developed by Nvidia. The RT in the RTX stands for Ray Tracing, a rendering technique that traces light path as it bounces off of surfaces simulating its interaction with the objects in a visual scene.

Ray tracing is one of the two common rendering techniques used by 3D artists, the other being path tracing

In a typical ray-traced render, the nearest object is identified, the algorithm estimates incoming light at the intersection of the camera or the view frame, examines the various material properties of the object like it’s refractive index, it’s texture, how reflective the surface is, etc and using all of this information it calculates the resulting color of the pixel. 

This is done several times by sending more rays from the view frame into the scene to gain as much pixel information as possible.

This technique is capable of producing photorealistic renders but at a high computational cost. No one ever imagined the technique to be used in real-time as it takes hours to render a decently complex scene with enough hardware powering it. 

The RTX brings exactly that with it. RTX specializes by dedicating cores for ray tracing that enable faster real-time ray-traced rendering. It also comes with AI-accelerated features that help build spatial search data efficiently and accurately.

The traditional ray tracing technique used in real-time might only be able to trace a scene partially making the resulting render noisy and grainy. This is where Nvidia’s AI-acceleration comes in; where the noisy image is smoothed out, the post-processed render is almost identical to the fully ray-traced scene, making it possible for an RTX graphics card to use the technique in real-time.

The technique can’t be fully relied on due to it being GPU intensive but with ray tracing enabled, the classic raster projections can be enhanced significantly. Games like Minecraft combined with quality texture packs look unrecognizable with RTX’s ray tracing on. Check out this comparison video by Nvidia. 

The video shows what potential RTX and its features hold for real-time path tracing. Gamers out there have already started experimenting, testing and pushing the limits of RTX by creating complex environments in games that support it. 

Final Thoughts

Who knew a technique that took hours of your machine time for rendering a single scene could be coupled with AI to achieve results in real-time. I believe we still haven’t seen what RTX and its upcoming cards have to offer. What we’ve seen so far is just a scratch on the surface and the best is yet to come.

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