In leu of new hardware announcements at Gamescom 2023, GPU specialists NVIDIA have thrown a spotlight on their suite of bespoke technologies known as RTX. Now just as core a part of their product lineup as the actual graphics cards themselves, RTX unlocks key features such as hardware-accelerated ray-traced illumination and AI upscaling which are increasingly being leveraged by games developers to improve frame rates and visual fidelity.
Debuting at Gamescom is DLSS 3.5, a new extension to DLSS 3 which incorporates a feature known as Ray Reconstruction. Conventional ray tracing techniques rely on a process known as denoising to fill in missing pixels and generate a more realistic composite image, and developers have needed to tune their denoiser when placing it in the rendering pipeline to address the different forms of noise that are part of a raytraced scene. This can be a significant sink for developer time, despite purpose-built tools supplied by NVIDIA and other middleware providers.
Thanks to better training data than its predecessor (datasets are around 5x the size of of DLSS 3), DLSS 3.5 can better assess and recreate the lighting effects expected in a ray-traced scene. A process dubbed Ray Reconstruction supplants the denoiser in the rendering pipeline, utilising the enhanced training data to assemble a more realistic image without falling into the traps of algorithmic approaches that can appear as artefacts in a rendered frame.
Side-by-side demonstrations of Ray Reconstruction show it generating smoother and more realistic ray traced frames without effects such as ghosting and blurring.
This technology leverages the Tensor cores present in NVIDIA RTX-class GPUs, and as such the technology can be used by every generation of NVIDIA RTX GPU. That wasn't the case with DLSS 3's Frame Generation, and is a little unexpected given NVIDIA's penchant for generational exclusivity. Differences in hardware will still likely make for significant variations in performance however.
Also announced this week is a new classic title given an RTX Remix makeover. Half Life 2 was critically acclaimed and one of the highest rated PC games of all time, inspiring countless mods and more than a few spin-off titles including Portal, Portal 2 and Half Life: Alyx. Veteran HL2 modders are now using RTX Remix, a toolkit designed to retrofit RTX technologies and AI-generated high resolution assets into legacy games, to give it a well deserved new lease on life. Once completed, the mod should incorporate full scene ray tracing, DLSS 3 and RTX IO as well as generally better quality objects and textures.
HL2RTX is a community-driven project that's still in the early stages of development. You can find out more at https://www.hl2rtx.com/.
Finally, NVIDIA also announced some updates to their GeForce NOW streaming platform. Ultimate members throughout North America and Europe can now enjoy the new fleet of SuperPODs equipped with GeForce RTX 4080 GPUs, enhancing frame rates and the full range of RTX features without needing this expensive hardware in home PCs. Game Streaming through GeForce NOW can be performed on humble systems powered by integrated graphics and through a Chrome browser, making it available to even mobiles and tablets.
Coming soon to GeForce NOW are Alan Wake 2, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty DLC, PAYDAY 3 and Party Animals, each of which will be available when they launch on PC in the near future. Furthermore, in the coming days the Microsoft Store integrated will be added to the platform as part of a long-term partnership with the creators of XBOX.
DLSS 3.5 is being demonstrated in NVIDIA’s booth (hall 2.1, booth A10) at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, August 23rd - 27th.
SOURCE: NVIDIA Blog