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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