Ray tracing

NVIDIA (NVDA) is a leader in the PC gaming market because of its most advanced GPU (graphics processing unit) technology. In September 2018, it launched the industry’s first real-time ray tracing GPU with dedicated RT Cores and named them “GPUs RTX.”

Ray tracing is an image-processing technique that simulates light beams and their interactions with various objects. This technique helps render real-life images in real time, thereby saving time and money for developers.

NVIDIA Banks on Ray Tracing for Future Gaming Growth

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NVIDIA’s strategy behind launching RTX GPUs

At the Investor Day 2019, NVIDIA’s senior vice president of the GeForce business unit, Jeff Fisher, explained the company’s objective behind RTX GPUs. Ray tracing is a software algorithm that can run on CPU (central processing unit) and accelerate on GPU. NVIDIA is bringing ray tracing to all its GPUs by adding DXR (DirectX Raytracing) support to its drivers. Microsoft’s (MSFT) DXR allows for hardware real-time ray tracing, which means gamers can enjoy ray tracing even on their previous generation Pascal GPUs. Then why would gamers buy RTX GPUs?

Jeff Fisher stated that the dedicated RT Cores inside Turing GPUs accelerate ray tracing 3x faster than Pascal and gives gamers real-time ray tracing experience in fully interactive games. Gamers playing esports require 120+ FPS (frames per second), and those playing AAA games require 45 FPS. Even the lowest range Turing GPU offers the above FPS.

Adoption of ray tracing by gamers

Jeff Fisher cited data from Prosettings.net, which showed that 98% of the 900 gaming and streaming professionals on the website use GeForce GPUs, of which almost 80% use RTX 2070 or higher GPUs.

However, RTX GPU’s early adoption was troublesome due to the lack of ecosystem supporting ray tracing and the high price of RTX 2080 and 2070. Thus, NVIDIA launched mainstream variants of RTX GPUs at $299 price points. The first eight-week sales of Turing GPUs priced at and above $299 outpaced that of Pascal GPUs by 45%.

NVIDIA is bringing RTX to notebooks, which has created excitement among OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). OEMs are expected to roll out ~45 Max-Q notebook models in 2019, double the number of models released in 2018.

Top gaming machines like Epic and Unity and first-party engines, including Frostbite, Remedy, CRYENGINE, and Crystal Dynamics are integrating DXR and RTX support, which will likely further boost RTX adoption.

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