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Table of contents
1.
Introduction to Ray Tracing
2.
How does Ray Tracing work?
3.
Limits of Ray Tracing in video games
4.
Ray Tracing simulating technology
4.1.
Rasterization
4.2.
Deep Learning Super Sampling
4.3.
FidelityFX Super Resolution
5.
Frequently Asked Questions
5.1.
Can any GPU run ray tracing?
5.2.
How do you determine if your GPU’s ray tracing is on?
5.3.
Does ray tracing lower the Frames per Second (FPS)?
6.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Ray Tracing

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Introduction to Ray Tracing

Although Ray Tracing, as a technology, has long been used in films, it is the technology’s use in video games that has brought it the most fame. It's a sophisticated and realistic method of simulating light and shadows in a scene. It's what movies and TV programmes utilise to produce and merge incredible computer-generated imagery with real-life situations. Ray tracing, however, requires a lot of processing power to render since it simulates and tracks every ray of light emitted by a lighting source. That is why it had been a pipe dream for videos for such a long time.

That has changed with the development of Nvidia’s RTX series of graphic cards that could efficiently run ray tracing.

Source

How does Ray Tracing work?

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that can create stunning lighting effects. In essence, an algorithm can track the passage of light and then mimic how it interacts with the virtual items it eventually encounters in the computer-generated environment.

Ray tracing produces far more realistic shadows and reflections, as well as significantly better translucence and dispersion. The algorithm considers where the light falls and calculates the interaction and interplay in the same way that the human eye does with actual light, shadows, and reflections. The way light interacts with items in the world impacts the colours you perceive.

It is feasible to create very realistic CG images that are virtually indistinguishable from real life with adequate processing power. But that's the problem: even a well-equipped gaming PC, much alone a current game console, only has so much GPU power.

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Limits of Ray Tracing in video games

Because of its underlying resemblance to real life, ray tracing is an extraordinarily realistic 3D rendering technology that can even make blocky games like Quake seem photo-realistic in the appropriate circumstances. There's just one problem: simulating it is exceedingly difficult. Replicating how light behaves in the actual world is complex and time-consuming, requiring massive computational power.

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Existing ray-tracing alternatives in games, such as Nvidia's RTX-driven ray tracing, aren't true to life. They aren't genuine ray tracing, which simulates every single point of light. Instead, the GPU "cheats" by employing numerous clever approximations to provide a visual appearance similar to the original but not as demanding on the hardware. This will most certainly be altered in future GPU generations, but it's a step in the right direction for now.

Most ray tracing games combine classic lighting techniques, such as rasterization, with ray tracing on specialised surfaces like reflecting puddles and metalwork. Some other games use Nvidia’s denoising and Deep Learning Super Sampling technologies to cheat ray tracing simulation.

Ray Tracing simulating technology

Rasterization

Most video games are typically rendered using rasterization. In short, it's the method through which the GPU constructs a three-dimensional scene. After the set’s creation, the polygons are converted into 2D pixels, which are then fine-tuned with shading, lighting, colours, and textures. Inaccurate lighting effects are one of rasterization's drawbacks. Because this method can't precisely monitor light and compute how it should impact virtual objects as ray tracing can, developers must instead rely on "faking" lighting and its effects.

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Deep Learning Super Sampling

DLSS is Nvidia’s latest technology to simulate ray tracing for video games. DLSS works by producing a video game at a lower resolution and then upscaling those frames to your desired resolution using artificial intelligence and temporal data from several frames to fill in the gaps. The goal is to make a game appear as professional as possible without compromising performance. It's designed to speed up the ray tracing process. Because ray tracing places a lot of strain on your GPU, most games drop below 60 frames per second. DLSS improves ray tracing by relieving the GPU of part of the load.

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FidelityFX Super Resolution

FSR is AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s DLSS technology. FSR, like Nvidia's DLSS, decreases the resolution of your game before using a "spatial" upscaling approach to display it at the full resolution you want. To put it another way, your game will appear to be operating at a greater resolution than it actually is. However, FSR is not the same as DLSS. For starters, it works with several GPU versions, including Nvidia's GeForce cards. The source code is also public, following AMD’s developer-friendly tradition. When you set FSR's spatial upscaling to its quicker Performance choices, it takes a bigger penalty to visual quality than DLSS. Still, both operate well when set to Quality or Ultra Quality presets, especially on pixel-packed 1440p or 4K monitors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can any GPU run ray tracing?

While older graphics cards now enable ray tracing, performance will suffer. Old GTX GPUs can only provide minimal ray tracing effects with a low ray count. While RTX graphics processors can handle far more complicated effects, such as multiple effects being displayed with a greater ray count, they can also handle much more complex effects.

How do you determine if your GPU’s ray tracing is on?

The simplest method to tell if ray tracing is on or disabled is to look at the reflections. Simply look for a puddle or any other glass surface in the game. You'll notice that the reflections are clearer and more detailed as soon as you discover how to turn RTX on.

Does ray tracing lower the Frames per Second (FPS)?

Yes, RTX lowers FPS to some extent since it adds textures and shadows to your game to give it an authentic Ray Tracing look, which requires CPU and GPU support.

Conclusion

This article discusses the meaning of ray tracing, its role in gaming and how to simulate it.

Also read - AMD vs Intel

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