Nvidia Debuts Next-Gen Gaming with Ray-Tracing, AI at CES

At Nvidia’s CES 2019 press conference, founder/chief executive Jensen Huang was enthused about gaming. “Usually I also focus on AI and self-driving cars,” he said. “We have a lot of announcements about that. But today it’s all about gaming.” One big announcement was the company’s new GeForce RTX 2060, which is based on Turing architecture and is enabled by both ray-tracing and artificial intelligence. The RTX 2060, priced at $349, will be available January 15 “from every major OEM, system builder and graphics card partner.”

Huang described the RTX 2060 as 60 percent faster on current titles than GTX 1060, and also beating the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. To put the RTX 2060 in context, Huang went over the history of how the GPU revolutionized modern gaming over the last 15 years, via rasterization, which translates geometries into pixels. He mentioned technology upgrades, from texture mapping to programmable shaders, that resulted in some groundbreaking games.

“But, reflections still aren’t right, shadows aren’t right and refractions are really hard to do,” he said. “These three lighting defects are hard to do with rasterization and why the images still look cartoony. It’s hard to simulate light starting from geometry.”

That’s where ray-tracing comes in. Huang described how it’s taken three decades since an early paper on iterative ray-tracing to get to the point where it is a useable technology. Add in artificial intelligence to the mix, said Huang, and “these two fundamental technologies … we believe will define the next generation of computer graphics.”

Nvidia’s new RTX computer graphics technology is based on a brand new GPU dubbed Turing architecture. “[RTX] consists of four things,” said Huang. “The Turing GPU; a brand new shader architecture; a Tensor Cores engine which can operate on the deep learning networks of linear algebra matrices at the speed of light; and lastly the RT (ray-tracing) Core that describes the geometric world.” With Turing’s RT Cores and Tensor Cores, it can run “Battlefield V” with ray-tracing at 60 fps.

The RTX 2060 also supports concurrent execution of floating point and integer operations and comes with 6GB of GDDR6 memory and 240 Tensor Cores that “deliver 52 teraflops of deep learning horsepower, which can improve gaming performance” through what the company is dubbing Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). Huang stated that throughput was twice that of the previous Pascal architecture. The dream, he said, is to use AI to “predict the perfect pixel.”

“We could increase performance and quality at the same time,” he said. For a limited time, anyone purchasing a GeForce RTX 2060 or new desktop PC with the RTX 2060 can receive a copy of “Anthem” or “Battlefield V.”

Huang also announced that RTX will be able to accelerate Autodesk’s renderer Arnold. Nvidia is partnering with RED Digital Cinema so that all RTX that are desktop 2080 and above will be able to edit and color correct 8K content. In another partnership, Nvidia is working with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to create professional quality broadcast streaming. The company built a professional broadcast quality encoder and an SDK to capture, encode and stream with a small-as-possible load on the GPU. It is also partnering with HTC for an “elegant one wire” or “virtual link” solution for the VR headset.