A while back I published a post claiming that Crytek’s ray tracing demo that leveraged the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 was only partially ray traced. That article got a lot of flak and criticism from people claiming to be “experts” on the subject. I, however, stood my ground and refused to take down the post. Now, Crytek has finally revealed more details on how it conducted that Noir ray tracing demo, and in the process proving that I was indeed correct.

Crytek  Ray Tracing Demo

Crytek mentions that they dynamically switched from mesh-tracing to low-cost voxel tracing to allow the non-RTX GPU to deliver a solid 30FPS. It also didn’t implement ray traced shadows or AO and used the older SSAO ambient occlusion algorithm for ambient shadowing.

Furthermore, the Crysis developer has also confirmed that in contrast to NVIDIA’s RTX powered titles, the reflections, and refractions in the demo were half resolution, thereby explaining the poor quality.

Crytek  Ray Tracing Demo

According to Crytek, NVIDIA’s RTCores won’t allow addition of new features or ray traced effects, but will significantly improve the performance so as to permit full-resolution ray traced reflections, possibly without switching between voxel-tracing and mesh-tracing through the course of the demonstration.

Other than physical hardware for acceleration, another thing that should improve ray tracing are modern low-level graphics APIs. At the moment, Microsoft’s DXR is the only viable API with proper ray tracing capability. Although Vulkan does support the feature, the performance is much worse off.

Crytek’s demo prompted NVIDIA to bring ray-tracing support to GTX-class Pascal and the newly announced 16-series Turing GPUs. Although the RTX cards are much faster compared to their predecessors at real-time ray tracing, it still gives gamers with older GPUs to get a taste of ray tracing and decide for themselves if the bump in quality is worth the extra cost.

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