Microsoft announces a new DirectX Raytracing API at the GDC 2018

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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Microsoft revealed exciting news at the Game Developers Conference 2018 that includes a new API as part of the broader DirectX framework. We’re referring to DirectX Raytracing aka DXR which will be supported by both Nvidia and AMD. The announcement is a huge step towards some crucial changes.

Making raytracing easier for gaming

Raytracing involves tracing the path of light rays in digitally produced scenes in order to render highly realistic lighting, shadows, reflections, and refractions. This has been used in pre-rendered video to produce visual accurate special effects during post-production. The technique is impressive for film and TV industry.

On the other hand, for gaming which requires interactivity and apps that are highly latency-sensitive, the processing power needed to perform raytracing correctly has been a massive barrier that led to other ways of simulating lighting in 3D environments. Microsoft’s announcement plans to change this.

Nvidia announces Nvidia RTX

Nvidia announced Nvidia RTX, a raytracing technology that promises to bring real-time, cinematic-quality rendering to content creators and game developers. Nvidia’s next-gen Volta architecture consume graphics cards will use the RTX technology and Microsoft DXR.

Support for DXR in older generation hardware has not been confirmed. According to Toni Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at Nvidia, real-time raytracing has been only a dream of the graphics industry and game developers for decades and the new and more powerful GPUs that will deliver real-time raytracing will take us into a new era of next-gen visuals.

AMD’s plans for Microsoft’s announcement

AMD stated that it’s teaming up with Microsoft to help define, refine and support the future DirectX12 and raytracing. The company remains interested in new programming models and app programming interface innovation. AMD also said that they’re looking forward to discussing innovative ideas with game developers and get feedback related to PC-based raytracing.

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