Why Today Is an Exciting Moment for Gamers and Important Catalyst for Ray-Traced Games

Windows 10 October 2018 Update includes the public release of DirectX Raytracing.
by Sean Pelletier

The gaming industry witnessed a seismic shift in computer graphics in August with the launch of NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs. For the first time, developers and consumers worldwide have access to hardware fast enough to do real-time ray tracing.

Another milestone hit today with the release of Windows 10 October 2018 Update. It promises to catalyze the development of a new generation of games that bring lifelike lighting, reflections and shadows to real-time, interactive experiences.

One of the update’s key features is the first public support for Microsoft DirectX Raytracing (DXR). This is huge for two reasons:

  1. DXR provides an industry-standard application programming interface (API) that gives all game developers access to GeForce RTX’s hardware support of ray tracing.
  2. DXR adds support for ray tracing to the Windows operating system, so DirectX 12 Windows PCs can now execute the applications that support real-time ray tracing.

Real-time ray tracing is a revolution for the gaming industry. It offers a level of realism far beyond what’s possible with traditional rendering techniques.

Over the years, rasterization evolved to help game developers create stunning graphics and realism. But ray tracing — long heralded as the holy grail for computer graphics — models the real-world behavior of light. Artists and computer graphics researchers alike consider it the definitive solution for realistic and lifelike lighting, reflections and shadows.

See it at work in the Battlefield V RTX trailer below:

Ray tracing isn’t new. It’s been rendered offline for decades to create movies and other applications where real-time performance isn’t essential.

This isn’t the case for games. Movie scenes are “fixed.” The action doesn’t change. So moviemakers can spend days or weeks rendering a single scene. By contrast, game scenes are interactive and unpredictable. A game has only milliseconds to generate an image.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards make real-time ray tracing possible. Their powerful performance, hardware support for ray tracing and artificial intelligence enable unprecedented cinematic experiences in games and other interactive content.

Top game studios are already developing titles featuring real-time ray tracing on NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs. Three blockbusters will be supporting the technology: Battlefield V, Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Other developers have announced support for NVIDIA RTX as well. 3DMark has even announced a benchmark for ray tracing titles.

With Microsoft’s official public support of DXR with its Windows 10 October 2018 Update and the GeForce RTX family of Turing-based GPUs, PC gamers can look forward to the first wave of next-generation titles with ray tracing.