Stage one of the Real-time Raytracing revolution for gaming began last month with the release of NVIDIA RTX 20-series graphics cards, only to be met with some dismay as enthusiasts realised that hardware was only a part of the equation. This week however Stage 2 begins: the gradual rollout of DirectX Raytracing (DXR), a component of the Windows 10 October 2018 update.
DirectX Raytracing is an extension of the DirectX 12 API which provides a framework for game engines to interface with the graphics card drivers and execute raytracing instructions. It's vendor agnostic, meaning that once supported hardware is available it will work no matter the manufacturer. While that isn't a factor today, it could be as and when AMD release hardware and driver support for real-time raytracing.
Even with the stupendous horsepower of the RTX 20-series real-time raytracing can't be used to render entire scenes. For now, the technology is leveraged to improve aspects tailored to graphical immersion that traditional rasterisation isn't the ideal solution for. Shadows of the Tomb Raider for instance will used NVIDIA RTX technology to render more realistic and dynamic shadows.
It's not currently clear whether NVIDIA's GeForce 411.70 driver is compatible with DXR, but the point remains somewhat moot for now. The final stage in raytracing support for games is their in-engine implementation, for which we'll be waiting on post-launch patches to the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus. Additionally, Futuremark are also working on a 3DMark benchmark utility for assessing raytracing performance, due Q4 2018.
The Windows 10 October 2018 (version 1809) update is currently being rolled out gradually worldwide, so don't be too surprised if you don't have it installed just yet. Nonetheless, Microsoft prioritises systems based on their hardware configuration and use cases; if you're a gamer with an NVIDIA RTX graphics card it's likely you'll be high up the list. You can also kick-start the process by manually checking for updates through Windows.
SOURCE: Microsoft Blog