Video games are about to get more photorealistic thanks to new technology from Nvidia. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, the graphics card manufacturer announced that it had cracked 'ray tracing'—an advanced method of rendering computer graphics that delivers cinematic quality images. In conjunction, Microsoft announced a new API—DirectX Raytracing—to help game companies get the most out of the new technology.
Several companies have had some time with DXR, but the footage coming out of Epic Game’s Project Spotlight has been the most impressive. A Star Wars video of Captain Phasma punishing mouthy Stormtroopers demonstrated the engine’s ability to seamlessly render beautiful reflective surfaces and lighting in real time.
The video the company showed to demo this new tech looks incredible, but I don't care how beefed up you think your gaming PC is, you're probably not going to match the hardware used to run this. Epic Games showed off the tech using a DGX Station, which is “the world’s first personal supercomputer for leading-edge AI development,” according to Nvidia. The current selling price for the machine is $60,000, but you can save 25 percent if you buy one now.
Ray tracing is impressive stuff that’s long been the dream of game developers and Nvidia itself. When you see computer graphics in a film, they’ve typically been rendered using ray tracing—a painstaking process that creates beautiful photo-realistic images but takes several hours to render per frame. DXR and Nvidia can do that in real-time, provided you’ve got the right GPU.
DXR is still a long way from being part of your daily gaming life, the technology currently only works on Nvidia's volta architecture, which is the tech it uses in it’s line of supercomputers. If you’re an early adopter, you can pick up the consumer-friendly Titan V for $3,000.