Nvidia and Microsoft team up to roll out raytracing tech in games

Nvidia and Microsoft team up to roll out raytracing tech in games

Two of the biggest companies in the games space have announced a partnership to bring real-time raytracing to PC games this year.

Announced at the Game Developer Conference, the duo have been hard at work to build a standard API to enable the fancy new tech in video games. This will enable light and its effects, such as reflections and shadows, to be rendered more realistically. It uses the "highly scalable" tech from Nvidia's next-gen Volta GPU technology. 

“Real-time ray tracing has been a dream of the graphics industry and game developers for decades, and Nvidia RTX is bringing it to life," Nvidia SVP of content and tech Tony Tamasi said.

“GPUs are only now becoming powerful enough to deliver real-time ray tracing for gaming applications, and will usher in a new era of next-generation visuals.”

Just what is ray tracing? Nvidia has produced a really informative blog post explaining the topic.

Essentially, it's a technique that has been used in films for ages that gives a feeling of realism due to the way it handles lights with computer generated objects.

Traditionally, video games have used rasterisation to render 3D objects - a quick and easy way of showing 3D objects in a 2D space. It's also quite intensive on the hardware rendering said objects, meaning we have reached a point where Nvidia argues it's just not viable to do things this way anymore.

"Ray tracing is different. In the real-world, the 3D objects we see are illuminated by light sources, and photons can bounce from one object to another before reaching the viewer’s eyes," the post said.

Light may be blocked by some objects, creating shadows. Or light may reflect from one object to another, such as when we see the images of one object reflected in the surface of another. And then there are refractions — when light changes as it passes through transparent or semi-transparent objects, like glass or water."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.