Nvidia GeForce driver brings ray-tracing to firm's 10-series GTX cards

Sarah Tew  CNET

Not all of NVIDIA's RTX features will be enabled, one omission being Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), as it would be too inefficient to run without the Tensor cores found in the Turing RTX GPUs. You can see it takes up a lot of frame rending time - about 80 per cent of the time used. You can download it from Nvidia's driver support page. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, appropriately, confines its ray tracing to shadows. Showcases ray-traced reflections, ray-traced area light shadows, ray-traced ambient occlusion for characters and Nvidia DLSS technology.

To coincide with the DXR driver release, tech demos for both Justice and the unreleased Atomic Heart, two games set to feature real-time ray tracing, are likewise being made available, as well as the previously-unreleased Star Wars Reflections demo. To make it simple, the workload on processing the ray tracing increases with the number of rays involved. First announced three weeks ago, Nvidia's latest Game Ready driver, out today, will allow everyone with a 6GB GTX 1060 upwards to take advantage of all the shiny shadow and reflection enhancements in games such as Metro Exodus, Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider now only enjoyed by their Nvidia RTX cousins. And the company wants to make sure owners of those cards (as well as RTX owners) have some new ways to play with this much-hyped feature, with new ray tracing-focused demos arriving as well.

Depending on the game and the complexity of the ray tracing it uses, faster GTX hardware is sometimes viable.

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These three demos are the Star Wars Unreal Engine 4 demo, the Atomic Heart demo and the Justice demo.

Of course, to experience ray tracing the right way, you'll be better off with a RTX card, which can get much more playable framerates. In this case, it sounds like game devs are satisfied that they've provided enough DXR quality settings that users will be able to dial things down for slower cards. Thanks to this new driver there are now "tens of millions of DXR GPUs" in consumer PCs. Sure, the GTX 1060 performance looks pretty terrible in 3DMark Port Royal, but it's not that bad in Battlefield 5 with medium DXR.

Some initial performance numbers were provided by NVIDIA for a number of games across the newly supported GPU stack, including games such as Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus. That's probably more of a developer decision rather than a technical limitation, but if it's easier to do lower levels of RT shadows and get a better result (without tanking framerate), it's a viable approach. NVIDIA also recommend that you use 1080p for better result if you wish to experience DXR with GTX cards. That can be adjusted by the game developer for optimization purposes and is something we have recently seen happen with Battlefield V in the latest update. I believe that 1080p would be a sweet spot but only for those who want to try the feature to see the difference and to assess whether getting an RTX card is worth it or not.

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