Pascal GeForce GTX cards could get ray tracing with driver update

Superseded architecture to get basic capabilities of beefier stablemate.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Users of Pascal GeForce GTX cards looking longingly at the latest offerings from Nvidia with dedicated ray-tracing components will get a small sample of the future thanks to an April driver update.

As detailed by Nvidia, cards deemed to have sufficient performance and memory will have the ability to enable basic ray tracing. Models flagged to get the update include: Titan XP, Titan X, GTX 1080 and 1070 models, and the GTX 1060 6GB version. The Turing-powered GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660, as well as the Volta-backed Titan V will also receive the update.

For ray tracing to be enabled within a game or application, it will need to make use of DirectX Raytracing.

Nvidia said it is bringing on the update to increase the install base of capable hardware.

"GeForce RTX users will experience up to 2-3x faster performance [compared to GTX] thanks to the dedicated RT Cores on their GPUs, enabling the use of higher-quality settings and resolutions at higher framerates," the company said.

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"RT Cores on GeForce RTX GPUs provide dedicated hardware to accelerate BVH and ray / triangle intersection calculations, dramatically accelerating ray tracing. On GeForce GTX hardware, these calculations are performed on the shader cores, a resource shared with many other graphics functions of the GPU."

The Pascal chips are also hindered by the lack of uncoupled int32 and FP32 cores, a feature introduced in Turing.

(Image: Nvidia)

In-game testing showed the use of RTX cards increased the number of frames per second by a factor between 1.5 to 5 times.

In a further effort to get developers on board, Unity and Unreal are working with Nvidia on ray tracing capabilities for the popular frameworks.

During the GTC keynote on Monday, Nvidia and Unity showed off a quite convincing, but not perfect, real-time ray tracing rendering of a BMW 8 series.

The companies said the functionality would allow designers to potentially flag dangerous reflections or blind spots in a vehicle's design, as well as rapidly iterating on designs.

"Until Nvidia RTX, real-time ray tracing was perpetually on the horizon. Now millions of developers working in Unity can achieve amazing graphics with lightning speed," Nvidia vice president of Professional Visualization Bob Pette said.

"Unity's plug-and-play resources for developers and popularity with brands large and small make its users a natural audience to take advantage of RTX ray tracing capabilities."


Not a real beemer, but very close

(Image: Nvidia)

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to GTC in San Jose as a guest of Nvidia

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