Here’s something that might upset the RTX 20 series cards owners at first – NVIDIA just announced that they will be enabling ray tracing support for selected GeForce GTX cards. According to NVIDIA, the upcoming driver update will enable ray tracing support on the following GeForce GTX cards.
Now, don’t get too excited yet if you’re still using any of the listed cards. Although NVIDIA did highlighted that the previous gen Pascal GPU are capable of ray tracing, but the amount of processing power required for the ray tracing process in the current RTX games like Battlefield V or Metro Exodus will be too much for it handle. In short, the RTX 20 series cards will still have the advantage of having a dedicated processing unit a.k.a RT cores to take care of the work.
How Real-Time Ray Tracing Is Achieved
A 3D object are made up of a lot of tiny triangles that has different characteristics of its own which blocks, reflects, allow or partially allow light to pass through it. In Ray Tracing, you are basically tracing the light from the camera back to the source of light. As light travels through the scene, it hits these small triangle on the objects available in the scene and bounces off or passes through it, depending on the type of material and surface of the object. Data for each and every of these ray of light will then be used to determine how the object should look like in real life to create a photo-realistic image based on the brightness intensity of the surface, the amount of light allowed to pass through, the shadow to cast, etc.
Bounding Volume Hierarchy a.k.a BVH is the method used here to determine if the ray of light has actually intersects with any of the the triangles in a region, somewhat similar to the Binary Search Tree a.k.a BST for accelerating data searching in data structure. Once that region is determined, you can pretty much ignore the rest and traverse to the smaller region of the node to get that exact triangle that intersects with the light. So, just try to imagine the amount of triangles on each object that is populated in a single scene and the amount of processing involved just to ray trace that in real-time.
Better Performance On Turing GPU
Based on the data provided above, you can already see the kind of improvement you’ll be getting from a RTX 20 series card over the previous gen GTX 10 series or the recently launched GTX 16 series cards when it comes to real-time ray tracing performance. The changes in its core execution path of the Turing GPU which runs in parallel as compared to the previous gen that constantly switches between floating point and integer instructions plays an important role as well to further improve the performance of the GPU. With that being said, it’s no surprise that the GTX 16 series cards that uses the Turing TU116 GPU are performing better than the previous gen GTX 10 series cards.
Honestly, we think that NVIDIA’s decision of enabling the support for ray tracing on its previous generation GPU isn’t really a bad idea after all. Now the end users can experience themselves to know how real-time ray tracing will be like. This will at least allow them to have a better understanding on difference in performance between both the GTX and RTX cards when it comes to real-time ray tracing for any of the existing RTX games.