NVIDIA Brings DX-R To Pascal GPUs with new driver (+some benchmarks)

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It has been a topic of much and many debates, the RTX features from NVIDIA. Is hybrid ray tracing with the extra money, and why hasn’t the sole technology behind RTX, the DXR API been brought towards other cards. Well, today that changes with a driver release from NVIDIA.

You want to run Battlefield 5 or Metro Exodus with ray tracing enabled? You need a GeForce RTX card. The release of today’s driver opens up DXR support towards NVIDIA Pascal GPUs for the GeForce 1000 and 1660 (6GB and higher) series.

Above the GTX 1080 - the perf hit is very extensive. 

There's a bit of a conundrum though, DXR technically only requires a DX12- or Vulkan-compatible graphics card with appropriate drivers, but the calculations for ray tracing will fall back to the GPU's compute capabilities and will invoke a big massive performance hit. The new driver released today makes it possible to use real-time raytracing in games via DXR as part of DirectX 12 without exclusive RT cores and thus utilizing the traditional compute cores. However, with DXR effects enabled, performance will be significantly lower than Turing's counterparts with specialized RT cores. 


The GTX 1660 Ti actually holds ground pretty well when you compare it with that GTX 1080

NVIDIA has been working on DXR via compute shaders running over its CUDA (shader) cores. For recent GeForce GTX 1660 series cards adopters that means there will be a performance benefit as Turing includes separate INT32 cores which are not merged with FP32 cores as Pascal has), that means that the 1660 cards will run significantly better than the Series 1000 (Pascal). It still will take a massive perf hit as it obviously is still lacking RTX cores.


The dark-colored charts below derive from NVIDIA themselves. The benchmark results as presented by NVIDIA are fairly spot on to what we are seeing. 


DLSS remains exclusively for Turing RTX
From now on Raytracing will no longer be available exclusively on GeForce RTX at Nvidia. But with DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) it is different. The alternative AI-based antialiasing will continue to be provided only with the dedicated tensor cores of the RTX family, Nvidia said in a Q & A.

So in short,  people can enable DirectX Raytracing (DXR) on GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and higher graphics cards via a Game Ready Driver update, expected in April. DLSS, no bueno.

Below you can see a number of slides with perf numbers that NVIDIA made, we have had no early driver to test this. In the course of today, we’ll run some numbers internally on our side and will add these towards this article. So, to be updated. The bad news is that Raytracing performance will suck on non RTX supported cards, the good news is that you can now visually check whether or not you like RTX Raytracing in your games, and can decide whether or not this is something for your upgrade path. For some good news, NVIDIA will be making three demos available today as well, the Star Wars reflections demo, the Justice tech demo and the Atomic Heart Tech demo which should be a really nice demo to play around with and immerse yourself in a raytraced environment.

Meanwhile, you can download and try the new driver here.

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