During their Gamescom 2018 present NVIDIA finally revealed their latest graphics processing units (GPUs), the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20 series. These new cards are the most powerful ones that the company have produced to date thanks to their new Turing GPU architecture and RTX platform which will also enable better quality virtual reality (VR) experiences. Before getting to this announcement however, the companies founder and CEO, Jensen Huang took some time to explain just how far computer graphics have come over the years and what has lead to this latest achievements.
Huang started the presentation by stating to the audience that the following announcements would be a key milestone not just for the company but for everyone. “This is a historic moment for computer graphics. For as long as there has been computer graphics there has been a dream of computer scientists to generate with computers photo realistic images.” Huang adds.
This is before talking about the work of Turner Whitted in 1979 who introduced recursive ray tracing as an implementation of global illumination. The resulting image at the time took one and half hours to render a 512×512 image on a million dollar (USD) supercomputer at a rate of sixty pixels a second, compared to today’s sixty frames a second. The question then asked by Huang is “How long would it take for us – from that time – for us to be able to realize this incredibly beautiful picture?”
“If you look at our technology curve it has been nothing short of extraordinary and ladies and gentlemen you have so much to do with it.” Huang continued to explain: “Because of the extraordinary demand of videogames, and the scale and size and vastness of this industry, it has propelled one of the most advancing, fast advancing technology in the history of computer science.”
Moore’s Law – which is the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore that the number of transistor per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since they were invented – has been the foundational thought of computer science for around 35 years, Huang explains. During this time frame however, Huang notes that NVIDIA have been moving at ten-times Moore’s Law. When computer processing was advancing at ten-times every five years or rather hundred times the law every ten years, NVIDIA have been moving at a rate of 1000-times ever ten years. Huang then notes that at the current rate it would take another ten-years to reach the next big computing milestone but as he expressed with excitement, “We didn’t want to wait that long.”
This leads into the companies announcement of their new Turing GPU architecture and the GeForce RTX 20 series as Huang begins to explain just how powerful the new technology is. “One Turing GPU has twice the performance of the highest end GPU in the world today, the 1080 Ti.” said Huang. During the presentation it was revealed that the real-time ray tracing Star Wars demo shown earlier in the year at the Game Developer Conference 2018, had been pwered by four GPUs costing upwards of $10,000 (USD). That demo was meant with a hugely postive public reaction and that power has now been built into the new GPUs thanks to the RTX platform and the Turing GPU architecture.
“Turing opens up a new golden age of gaming, with realism only possible with ray tracing, which most people thought was still a decade away,” said Huang in a press release before speaking at Gamescom: “The breakthrough is a hybrid rendering model that boosts today’s computer graphics with the addition of lightning-fast ray-tracing acceleration and AI. RTX is going to define a new look for computer graphics. Once you see an RTX game, you can’t go back.”
A single Turing GPU is able to run at up to 6X the performance of previous-generation GPUs and enables the full power of real-time ray tracing along with the enhanced benefits of artificial intelligence (AI and machine learning to further push the graphics to new levels. On top of all that, the new GeForce RTX 20 series GPUs take full advantage of 4K output, DirectX 12 support, NVIDIA G-Sync and HDR, Shadowplay and VR support.
“The NVIDIA RTX platform and GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs bring real-time ray tracing to games 10 years sooner than anyone could have ever imagined,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of Content and Technology at NVIDIA. “Thanks to the AI and hardware light-ray acceleration built into GeForce RTX GPUs, games using these futuristic features are right around the corner.”
As NVIDIA welcome a new era of computer graphics with their GeForce RTX 20 series GPUs, consumers around the world will be able to start seeing the benefits for themselves on September 20th, 2018. Pre-orders are open on the companies website now and prices start at $599 (USD).