How Maxwell’s VR Direct Brings Virtual Reality Gaming Closer to Reality

by Bryan Del Rizzo

We’ve seen it in movies. We’re read about it in books. Thirty years after the publication of Neuromancer, virtual technology is breaking into the mainstream. And our latest GPUs – built on our new Maxwell architecture – are ready.

Maxwell is at the core of our new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 GPUs, the most advanced GPUs ever made. We designed Maxwell to solve some of the most complex lighting and graphics challenges in visual computing.

One of the biggest challenges: virtual reality. With screens positioned inches away from the user’s face, responsiveness is at a premium. Too much latency can cause motion sickness. That’s why we optimized Maxwell-based GPUs for virtual reality.

No margin for error: get VR wrong and gamers can get sick.

Typically, it takes 50 milliseconds or more to render a scene in a virtual reality environment, from the time you move your head to the time you see a response. Maxwell cuts that latency in half.

Ready to rock: Oculus is helping drive VR into the mainstream.

Here’s how Maxwell unlocks better VR:

  • Baseline latency: Our engineers worked to cut all aspects of the connection between the game and the GPU, significantly improving latency.
  • MFAA: Using a new technology called multi-frame sampled anti-aliasing, or MFAA, Maxwell can combine many AA sample positions, producing what appears to be a higher-quality image. And it does this without the performance hit caused by other anti-aliasing technologies.
  • Asynchronous Warp: This starts with the last scene rendered, and lets the GPU update it based on head position information. By warping the image later in the rendering pipeline, Maxwell cuts discontinuities between head movement and action on screen. And by doing it asynchronously, it avoids stalling the GPU, robbing it of performance.
  • SLI: We’re also tuning the way our GPUs work together when they’re paired to drive virtual reality experiences. In the past, our GPUs would alternate rendering frames when joined in SLI mode. For VR, we’re changing the way our GPUs work in SLI, with each GPU rendering one display.
  • DSR: With the displays in a VR headset resting close to the user’s eyes, higher resolution can improve the VR experience. Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) – which we’re introducing with Maxwell – helps us take the resolution from 1 megapixel per eye to 4 megapixels per eye.
  • GeForce Experience: Rather than asking users to tweak all these settings when using VR, we’re implementing them to run automatically with our GeForce Experience software.
  • Optimized content: Few applications support VR headsets. So we’re bringing VR support to games that already work with NVIDIA 3D Vision.

The result: Maxwell isn’t just ready for VR. It’s helping make the future of VR possible.

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  • kontis

    ” Few applications support VR headsets. So we’re bringing VR support to games that already work with NVIDIA 3D Vision.”

    Does that mean a virtual stereoscopic screen emulating NVIDIA 3D Vision or a “native” 360 VR with head-tracking “hacked” into a game?

  • Bob Austin

    Oh my god, either way I am so excited. I was going to hold off until the 980 ti but I can wait no longer! No…I must hold out for the ti! I’ve never owned one but its time that I do!

  • tom

    awesome nvidia!

  • LocutusEstBorg

    Head tracking hacked in. You most likely won’t be able to tilt or bend forwards.

  • Rumpelstiltskin

    Exclusive for Maxwell or will this also work on Kepler cards as part of Geforce Experience?

  • Joshua J. Slone

    Some injectors like Perception and Vorpx have got the positional tracking working as well, so it’s a possibility.

  • El_MUERkO

    Is all of this specific to Maxwell or will it be supported on older cards as driver updates? I have a pair of Titan Black’s and I’d hope to see nVidia offer me at least some of these features.

  • care package

    wish they’d release these demos to the public, like the Alien Isolation one.

  • Nameless Person

    Will DSR be a standard feature of any game rendered with these new cards in the oculus rift or will it require special support from the software developers on a per game basis?

  • Spinelli

    I know 3D Vision is pretty Niche, but I take it very seriously for simracing as the depth perception literally makes a difference to performance, rather than just being used for immersion and wow-factor like in most other games. Anyways my question….

    From what it says above, does that mean that Nvidia 3D Vision has been using parallel rendering for a while in SLI, and that is therefore the reason why almost every game scales perfectly with SLI and 3D regardless of game-specific SLI profile/compatibility (or lack of)?…Does that also mean that 3D and SLI is the only way to have SLI without the forced-upon-the-user-no-matter-what-he/she-sets-in-their-control-panel pre-rendered frames at more than 1?…

  • boniek

    Stay strong brother and don’t settle for middle range.

  • jojo60387

    So, does this mean NVIDIA has its own 3D game engine?
    Because i didn’t think Unity could make a VR game like that.

  • Byron

    Are we talking about freedom of POA vs POV? Because it’s easy to translate head tracking to mouse movement and do that in the game.

  • Byron

    Smartest move IMO is get a 970 now, wait for Pascal next year and that’s when you go big. 970 is still a good upgrade for just about anything other than a 780ti at this point and very, very affordable.

    Pascal is a completely new concept of how GPUs exist. So unless you’re prepared to make two very expensive upgrades within about a year of each other, a 970 (or 980 if you can spring for it) would do you fine.

  • Georges

    Is this purely hardware? Or is VR Direct is bring by the driver? In this later case, VR Direct could be supported by Kepler GPU.