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NVIDIA Believes Ray Tracing Will Be a Requirement by 2023

NVIDIA is currently betting big on their ray tracing GPU technology. Understandably so, considering how much it improves the graphic realism beyond previous efforts. It brings in much more realistic lighting that even a game as simple as Minecraft can look quite stunning.

However, this graphics technology obviously requires considerable horsepower to run. This is technology which also costs a lot at the moment. Thankfully, according to Morgan Maguire of NVIDIA, it will take at least until 2023 before ray tracing becomes a requirement on a AAA game.

How Did He Arrive to That Conclusion?

Aside from working with NVIDIA, McGuire is a University professor who worked on Unity and other projects. He recently wrote a paper for SIGGRAPH 2019 outlining NVIDIA’s technologies for the past 20 years and how it has evolved.

He posits that for every new technology arrival, it takes 5 years for it to be pervasive. Using as evidence the first standalone GPU, the GeForce 256 introduced in 1999. Pointing out that it took until 2004 with the release of DOOM 3 for standalone GPUs to be a requirement.

He even goes back beyond NVIDIA’s timeline and suggests there is a five year gap between the arrival of NES (1985) and the Atari 800 (1979). He describes this gap as the introduction of the first gaming PC and the arrival of the pervasive home gaming. Although that last argument might be a bit bumpy considering it ignores the Atari 2600 which arrived in 1982.

What is Next After Ray Tracing?

As good as ray tracing is, McGuire admits that it still has problems. He adds that the game graphics roadmap will move towards a ray/raster tracing hybrid next. Which he calculates to be between 2024 to 2034, with the eventual arrival of path tracing by 2035. By then we can expect live-rendered graphics equivalent to current pre-rendered Disney/Pixar animation quality.

You can check out his power point presentation at SIGGRAPH 2019 by following this link (Google Drive). This includes his sources for further reading in 3D graphics technology. More ray tracing presentations from NVIDIA for SIGGRAPH 2019 are also available through this link.

Ron Perillo

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