Wait. What? WHAT! Holy @#$%.
In a series of announcements that left more than 1,200 gamers gathered Monday in Cologne alternately breathless, giddy with laughter, and shouting their enthusiasm, Jensen Huang introduced the GeForce RTX series of gaming processors, representing the biggest leap in performance in NVIDIA’s history.
“This is a historic moment,” the NVIDIA founder and CEO declared as he rolled out the new GPUs, starting at just $499. “Computer graphics has been reinvented.”
Delivering the “holy grail” of graphics to gamers, Huang introduced the world’s first real-time ray-tracing gaming GPUs — supported by a fat roster of upcoming blockbuster game titles — to a heaving crowd at the Palladium, a spare steel and concrete music venue tucked between railroad tracks and metal fabrication shops on Cologne’s gritty industrial north side.
Unveiled ahead of Gamescom, the world’s largest gaming expo, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080 and 2070 GPUs are the first gaming processors based on our new Turing architecture, packed with new features that will deliver 4K HDR gaming at 60 frames per second on the most advanced titles.
The RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 — including Founders Edition cards direct from NVIDIA — will be available for pre-order starting Monday. The RTX 2070, starting at $499, will be available in October.
These products are built on the NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture introduced a week ago in Vancouver, which fuses next-generation shaders with real-time ray tracing and all-new AI capabilities. Huang said this new hybrid graphics capability represents the biggest generational leap ever in gaming GPUs, delivering 6x more performance than its predecessor, Pascal.
Huang also announced that a barrage of 21 new games —including Battlefield V, Final Fantasy XV, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Shadow of the Tomb Raider — are being developed on the NVIDIA RTX platform.
The show stopper: a demo of Battlefield V that had the audience alternately bursting into applause and shouting with enthusiasm as they saw scenes from an urban battle reflected in a soldier’s eyes, fire from from a flame-throwing Churchill Crocodile tank reflected from the hood of a car, or an explosion from a V1 rocket reflected in the windows of nearby storefronts moments before the shockwave from the explosion shattered them.
“It does exactly what you would expect it to do and it does it all by itself,” Huang said from the stage of the effects Turing unleashes. “Everything just works because ray tracing just works.”
Delivering the Holy Grail
To put Turing’s capabilities into perspective, Huang’s talk opened with a video telling the visual history of computer graphics over the past half century, narrated by its pioneering figures.
It’s the tale of a grand quest to simulate the world, one that’s captivated some of the world’s brightest minds. It highlights breakthroughs in films such as Star Wars and The Abyss, and games like Crysis and Destiny 2.
NVIDIA RTX is the product of 10 years of work and 10,000 engineering years of effort in computer graphics algorithms and GPU architectures, Huang said. The NVIDIA RTX platform benefits from support in Microsoft’s new DirectX Raytracing API, games adopting it in development for Windows and Vulkan APIs, and hardware acceleration integrated into NVIDIA’s Turing architecture.
The headline feature — RT Cores — represent a kind of “holy grail” for gamers, accelerating the crushingly computationally intensive work of tracing beams of light through to generate images in real time, Huang said.
RTX: A Big Difference for Big Games
Turning to a tested computer graphics teaching tool, the Cornell Box — a 3D box inside which various objects are displayed — Huang showed how Turing uses ray tracing to portray increasingly complex scenes incorporating reflections, refractions, and shadows with stunning photo-realism. Each iteration of the demo got an instant reaction from audience members, who clapped and gasped every time Huang showed what RTX could do.
“Everything just works,” Huang said. “Everything….just…works…you just turn it on.”
To give the audience a taste of what Turing can do, Huang teed up a demo, dubbed Sol, showing a pair of robotic assistants placing glossy-white armor onto a lone figure, each piece finding its place with a gratifying “snick.”
As the protagonist ascends to a hatch to jump into action — with ray-traced reflections of the futuristic environment all around him gleaming from his suit and visor — the now unsupervised robots begin to dance to the irresistible rhythms 1977’s “Boogie Shoes” by KC and the Sunshine Band.
Hearing the music, the armored figure returns, cocks his head in surprise, and then demonstrates his own fluid, loose-limbed dance moves in a twist the had the audience howling with delight.
Turing also includes unprecedented deep learning capabilities — thanks to its built-in Tensor Cores, which accelerate the deep-learning algorithms driving the deep learning revolution.
Now that technology is coming back to games, with NVIDIA harnessing banks of supercomputers to train network, such as the NVIDIA Deep Learning Super Sampling, which turn low resolution into high resolution ones, and can run on Turing’s Tensor Cores.
Huang ended his presentation with a real-time demo that how the academic world of computer graphics — and the rollicking fun of computer games — intersect. It brings the audience back to the inside of the Cornell box — this time outfitted with a disco ball and strobe lights — where the armored figure from the video Huang showed just a few minutes before pops up again, dancing, only to freeze after the music stops.
The message is clear: you’re going to have a blast playing with Turing’s cutting-edge graphics.
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