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AMD and Nvidia working closely with Microsoft on DXR API

by Mark Tyson on 19 March 2018, 17:11

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), AMD (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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Today at the Game Developers Conference 2018 (GDC 2018), Microsoft took the wraps off its hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing API, or DXR for short. Many computer users will have at least heard of Raytracing. It is a computationally intensive process that generates a visual scene from any angle by considering how light would react to the shapes and materials within that scene. It is a rendering technique used extensively in the film and animation industry but the processing demands have been too high for any real-time gaming, for instance, which demands high frame rate performance. Interestingly, one of the presentation DXR slides teases that Raytracing has been "too demanding for real-time… until now".

PC games traditionally use a different method for visualising the 3D scenes gamers adventure, explore, and battle around. Rasterisation techniques are much faster to accomplish on the GPU architectures we have now. With this 3D image rendering method, scenes are built from polygon meshes with colour and texture data which is then converted to pixels on the 2D monitor. Rasterisation techniques have progressed well over recent years adding more lifelike qualities thanks to pixel processing, shading and lighting algorithms. However, Raytracing is still superior and the choice of pro graphics users such as architects, industrial designers, animators and engineers.

At GDC 2018 we learned that Microsoft DXR will be supported by engines such as Unreal, Unity, Frostbite, and Allegorithmic, and developers including EA, Remedy and 4A games are already working on DXR projects. We are promised "a new class of ray traced games," as the result.

Nvidia RTX

To work alongside Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API, Nvidia has introduced RTX. It claims that the technology. 10 years in the making, "brings real-time, move quality rendering to game developers". For now it sounds like a future tech for enthusiasts and gamers, as it will be a highly optimised technology "on Nvidia Volta GPUs". Nevertheless Nvidia promises that the tech will lead to a "giant leap in computer graphics".

Raytracing techniques that create area shadows, glossy reflections, and ambient occlusion are now available to developers thanks to Raytracing for GameWorks. This software is in early access for now but general availability is "coming soon". Already Nvidia has some glowing testimonials to share. Remedy Entertainment's technology team manager Miko Orrenmaa, said that developing on Nvidia RTX, enabled the team to "prototype new lighting, reflection, and ambient occlusion techniques, with significantly better visual fidelity than traditional rasterisation techniques."

AMD collaboration

HEXUS received an email bulletin from AMD about its own work on Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API. It said that it was "closely collaborating with Microsoft," on the future of the API. More specifically it is helping to "define, refine and support the future of DirectX12 and ray tracing". Without mentioning any of its own hardware/software technologies, AMD said that it "remains at the forefront of new programming model and application programming interface (API) innovation based on a forward-looking, system-level foundation for graphics programming." AMD hinted that it would have more to share about PC-based ray tracing techniques in the future.

AMD is announcing Radeon ProRender support for real-time GPU acceleration of ray tracing techniques mixed with traditional rasterization based rendering. Interestingly, this new process fuses the speed of rasterization with the physically-based realism that users of Radeon ProRender expect for their workflows.



HEXUS Forums :: 14 Comments

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Expanding DirectX 12: Microsoft Announces DirectX Raytracing:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12547/expanding-directx-12-microsoft-announces-directx-raytracing

A good article delving deeper into things.



For today’s reveal, NVIDIA is simultaneously announcing that they will support hardware acceleration of DXR through their new RTX Technology. RTX in turn combines previously-unannounced Volta architecture ray tracing features with optimized software routines to provide a complete DXR backend, while pre-Volta cards will use the DXR shader-based fallback option. Meanwhile AMD has also announced that they’re collaborating with Microsoft and that they’ll be releasing a driver in the near future that supports DXR acceleration. The tone of AMD’s announcement makes me think that they will have very limited hardware acceleration relative to NVIDIA, but we’ll have to wait and see just what AMD unveils once their drivers are available.

Though ultimately, the idea of hardware acceleration may be a (relatively) short-lived one. Since the introduction of DirectX 12, Microsoft’s long-term vision – and indeed the GPU industry’s overall vision – has been for GPUs to become increasingly general-purpose, with successive generations of GPUs moving farther and farther in this direction. As a result there is talk of GPUs doing away with fixed-function units entirely, and while this kind of thinking has admittedly burnt vendors before (Intel Larrabee), it’s not unfounded. Greater programmability will make it even easier to mix rasterization and ray tracing, and farther in the future still it could lay the groundwork for pure ray tracing in games.

Unsurprisingly then, the actual DXR commands for DX12 are very much designed for a highly programmable GPU. While I won’t get into programming minutiae better served by Microsoft’s dev blog, Microsoft’s eye is solidly on the future. DXR will not introduce any new execution engines in the DX12 model – so the primary two engines remain the graphics (3D) and compute engines – and indeed Microsoft is treating DXR as a compute task, meaning it can be run on top of either engine. Meanwhile DXR will introduce multiple new shader types to handle ray processing, including ray-generation, closest-hit, any-hit, and miss shaders. Finally, the 3D world itself will be described using what Microsoft is terming the acceleration structure, which is a full 3D environment that has been optimized for GPU traversal.

Though even with the roughly one year head start that Microsoft’s closest developers have received, my impression from all of this that DXR is still a very long-term project. Perhaps even more so than DirectX 12. While DX12 was a new API for existing hardware functions, DXR is closer to a traditional DirectX release in that it’s a new API (or rather new DX12 commands) that go best with new hardware. And as there’s essentially 0 consumer hardware on the market right now that offers hardware DXR acceleration, that means DXR really is starting from the beginning.

Nvidia RTX:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12546/nvidia-unveils-rtx-technology-real-time-ray-tracing-acceleration-for-volta-gpus-and-later
Did MS and NV screwed AMD on this one? Seems that nvidia was prepping this with ms, and designing their next-gen Volta GPUs with that in mind. And it looks like AMD was left out.
darcotech
Did MS and NV screwed AMD on this one? Seems that nvidia was prepping this with ms, and designing their next-gen Volta GPUs with that in mind. And it looks like AMD was left out.

I doubt it. AMD have been working on ray tracing accel stuff for a while (eg fireRays/ Radeon Rays a couple of years ago). Intel have also publically demoed real time RayTracing.

AMD also had some real time stuff back in DX11

http://youtu.be/gbjW57zlVfc
People have been claiming that real-time ray tracing is just one generation of GPUs away for decades (as in at least 20 years), I'll believe this when products hit the market
Article updated with the following:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Jq4EcV3xk

“AMD is announcing Radeon ProRender support for real-time GPU acceleration of ray tracing techniques mixed with traditional rasterization based rendering. This new process fuses the speed of rasterization with the physically-based realism that users of Radeon ProRender expect for their workflows.”