NVIDIA shows how much ray-tracing sucks on older GPUs

Nvidia Delivers Ray Tracing Driver for Previous-Gen Pascal Cards, New Demos

The obvious implication was that real-time ray tracing can be achieved on today's high-end GPUs, throwing the value of Nvidia's dedicated RT Cores into serious question.

Of note, this version has been enhanced with Deep Learning Super Sampling tech, to boost performance, and NVIDIA implemented new DXR updates and optimizations to further improve the quality of this stunning slice of entertainment.

There will still be some games, however, such as Metro Exodus, where those top-end 10-series cards trump all, as you can see in the graph above.

Thanks to Nvidia's latest GeForce driver, this functionality is now available on all of the firm's GTX cards from the Pascal GTX 1060 6GB.

The benchmarks from Nvidia illustrate the performance gap.

In conjunction with the new Game Ready drivers, NVIDIA has also released three new demos for gamers, should they feel inclined to try out the ray-tracing feature from themselves. At the very least, you'll be able to see what the effect is like at home, on your own display, before investing in expensive new hardware.

Tracing rays for realistic lighting, reflections, and shadows is computationally heavy. Atomic Heart looks to be the primary demo of this at the moment.

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Atomic Heart RTX tech demo -Atomic Heart tech demo is a beautifully detailed tech demo from Mundfish that features raytraced reflections and shadows, as well as NVIDIA DLSS technology. Enabling RTX will add a "massive amount of detail", NVIDIA says, to mirror the properties of materials from the surrounding landscape.

Nvidia took considerable flak from online communities last month following the reveal of the Neon Noir real-time ray tracing demo. The more demos showcasing the effects possible with NVIDIA's ray tracing hardware available, the more Pascal GPU owners will have the ability to check out these features on their own systems without making a purchase of any kind, and if they find the effects compelling it just might drive sales of the RTX 20-series in the endless quest for better performance.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to run two or three GTX 10-series cards together to improve the ray tracing performance. However as an aficionado for proper tech demo public binary releases - something that's become increasingly rare these days (Tim, I need Troll!) - it's great to see these demos finally released to the public.

Reflections tech demo - The Reflections tech demo was created by Epic Games in collaboration with ILMxLAB and NVIDIA.

One of the main takeaways from all this is that ray tracing is not an all-or-nothing affair. What that means is even though a card like the GTX 1070 (5783 GFLOPS) theoretically has more computational power than the GTX 1660 (5027 GFLOPS), in numerous tests the GTX 1660 ends up being faster with ray tracing-and the more ray tracing that's used, the better the Turing cards do relative to Pascal, so for example in Atomic Heart and Star Wars Reflections, the 1660 even outperforms the GTX 1080.

This gives developers and consumes alike a way to get their feet wet with ray-traced visuals, before jumping in whole-hog with brand new hardware.

This Game Ready Driver is compatible with a fairly decent range of GTX cards, starting with the 6GB GTX 1060 and going all the way up to the recently released GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti.

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