Nvidia has kicked off its GDC 2016 newsflow with the launch of the GameWorks SDK 3.1. This updated development kit is now available. Highlights in GameWorks 3.1 are three new "groundbreaking graphics techniques" for shadows and lighting, and there are two new physical simulation algorithms released as beta extensions to the PhysX library.
Introducing the new SDK Nvidia's Tony Tamasi said that the development was spurred by Nvidia's "passion for gaming," and the desire to tackle technical problems in real-time rendering and simulation. "Our GameWorks technologies push the boundaries of what's possible in real time, enabling developers to ship their games with state of the art special effects and simulations," claimed Tamasi.
Nvidia GameWorks 3.1 offers three new rendering techniques; Nvidia Volumetric Lighting, Nvidia Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (HTFS) and Nvidia Voxel Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO).
Nvidia Volumetric Lighting debuted in Fallout 4 and it simulates how light behaves as it scatters through the air and atmosphere. HTFS, as seen in The Division, is an algorithm for drawing high-fidelity shadows that transition smoothly from hard shadows near the occluding object, to proper soft shadows in regions farther away. Rise of the Tomb Raider was the debut game for VXAO, the "highest quality algorithm" for real-time ambient occlusion, adding greater depth and realism to scenes.
New beta extensions for Nvidia PhysX include PhysX-GRB and Nvidia Flow. The first new extension, PhysX-GRB, could replace Nvidia's popular PhysX rigid body dynamics SDK but bring a performance uplift of up to 6X in moderate to heavy simulation loads. Nvidia Flow is a completely new way to simulate and render combustible fluids such as fire and smoke – not limited to a bounding box.
GameWorks developers can grab the new SDK right away from GitHub. Read more at developer.nvidia.com.
Coming up later this week Nvidia will be talking about and demonstrating VR projects (including VRWorks), and making some "exciting announcements" related to the Nvidia SHIELD devices. However Nvidia will probably reserve its juiciest news for GTC 2016 which kicks off on 4th April.