What is ray tracing?

In modern-day gaming, ray tracing is one of the most talked-about technologies. Since the time Nvidia Turing was announced at Gamescom 2018, ray tracking has been a part of the conversation. Ray tracing is said to be a new type of rendering method, and it has finally debuted in the market with graphics cards. Also, one of the graphics cards that support ray tracing is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. But the question is, what is ray tracing?

According to the experts, ray tracing is said to be one of the significant graphics upgrades we will see in the gaming industry in years.

According to the reports, it is an advanced and lifelike way of rendering light and shadows in a scene. This is pretty similar to what movies and TV shows use to create and blend amazing CG work with real-life scenes.

Ray tracing works by simulation and tracking every ray of light produced by a source of lightning. Although, for a long time, it wasn’t possible to achieve ray tracking in PC games.

But in the modern-day, it is now achievable in PC games. But still, the biggest names in the game industry are using the technology to a certain limit. Such as rendering realistic reflections or shadows. Also, unfortunately, we are yet to see a fully ray-traced game.

Also, a big thanks go to Nvidia’s DXR spotlight contest, where game developers and content creators were able to showcase the things that this technology is capable of.

But still, there are a lot of people who don’t know about ray tracing technology in detail. Hence, I thought of explaining the technology to you in layman language. So here we go:

What is ray tracing? The most useful informations

In simple words, you can say that ray tracing is a new type of rendering technology. It is capable of producing excellent realistic lighting effects. The algorithm of ray tacking can trace the path of light and then simulate the way that the light interacts with the virtual objects it unlimitedly hits the computer-generated world.

Over the past years, we have seen that in-game lighting effects are becoming more and more realistic. As a result, the benefits of ray tracing are less about the light itself and more about how it interacts with the world.

Also, the technology allows for dramatically more lifelike shadows and reflections. Along with much-improved translucence and scattering. The algorithm is responsible for detecting the light and calculating the interaction and interplay.

Moreover, the algorithm is also designed in a way that simulates how the human eye would process real light, shadows, and reflections. As a result, as the light hits the gaming world, it will also affect which colours you get to see.

Also, as there is enough computational power available it is pretty much possible to produce realistic CG images which are nearly indistinguishable from real life.

Moreover, ray tracking is also being used extensively to develop computer graphics imagery for films and TV shows. But because studios are capable of harnessing the power of an entire server farm (or cloud computing) to get the job done. But still, it would be a long process and a tough job.

Also, back in the day’s video games used to have rasterization which is a faster way to render computer graphics. It converts the 3D graphics into 2D pixels to display on your screen, but rasterization requires shaders to depict realistic lighting.

But in today’s time, we have started seeing a lot of PC games taking advantage of the specialized hardware in the latest NVIDIA graphics to use real-time ray tracing. But still, rasterization will be needed in most games.

So overall, the benefits of ray tracing are extremely superior. But we will still need to wait for technological advancements to see some incredible effects. Also, there is a hope that ray tracing would revolutionize the way PC games are rendered.

Ray tracing in video games

There are quite a lot of games using ray tracing.  You can find ray tracing in video games such as:

  • Battlefield V – Ray traced reflections 
  •  Metro Exodus – Ray traced global illumination
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Ray traced shadows
  • Stay in the Light – Ray traced global illumination and reflections
  •  Quake II RTX – Ray traced global illumination

However, as of now, the number of games that use the Nvidia ray tracing technology is limited. Also, it is said that only 5 of the games are using the technology.

But the experts are hopeful that in the upcoming years we will see a wide range of games that are using ray tracing technology.

Also, if gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Project Scarlett offer large libraries of ray traced games, then you can pretty much expect PC games to have ray tracing as well.

There are also a bunch of games that are getting developed based on ray tracing. For instance, Remedy’s Control will use Nvidia’s RTX tech to great effect, with ray-traced reflections, shadows, and global illumination.

Graphics cards that support ray tracing

Back in 2019, there were graphics that came with real-time ray tracing only from Nvidia. Also, AMD had said that they want to get into the ray tracing technology at some point in the future, hinting that ray tracing would work on AMD graphics cards as well.

However, as of now, there are only a handful of graphics cards available that support ray tracing. For instance, there is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. Also, if you have a good budget, then you consider going for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The Ti variant would offer you a much better experience than the RTX 2060.

However, apart from these two, there are also a bunch of other graphics cards that support ray tracing. Such as:

  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 | 30 RT cores | 6GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super | 34 RT cores | 8GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 | 36 RT cores | 8 GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super | 40 RT cores | 8GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | 46 RT cores | 8GB GDDR6 
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super | 48 RT cores | 8GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti | 68 RT cores | 11GB GDDR6
  • Nvidia Titan RTX | 72 RT cores | 24GB GDDR6

Also, before you purchase any of the graphics cards, make sure you have a good budget. As these GPUs cost a lot, and not everyone would be able to afford one.

Along with that, do not forget to do proper research so you can get yourself one of the best graphics cards that support ray tracing. 

How can you see ray tracing at home?

To enjoy ray tracing, you will need a recent and expensive graphics card. As of now, the hardware-accelerated ray tracing is only available on the Nvidia RTX 20-series and 30-series GPUs. Also, in AMD, you can consider purchasing the AMD’s RX 6000-series GPUs.

Moreover, you should also know that GTX 10-series and 16-series cards support ray tracing. But they lack the RT cores to make it comfortably playable.

So that was all for your question that says what is ray tracing. I hope this has helped you to understand how ray tracing works and what are the current games that support ray tracing. 

Anyway, if there is anything else you would want to ask, then do feel free to comment below, and I will surely help you out. 

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