Nvidia RTX is a graphics rendering development platform created by Nvidia, primarily aimed at enabling real time ray tracing. Historically, ray tracing had been reserved to non-real time applications (like CGI in visual effects for movies and in photorealistic renderings), with video games having to rely on rasterization for their rendering. RTX facilitates a new development in computer graphics of generating interactive images that react to lighting, shadows, reflections. RTX runs on Nvidia Volta- and Turing-based GPUs, specifically utilizing the Tensor cores (and new RT cores on Turing) on the architectures for ray tracing acceleration.
In March 2019, Nvidia announced that selected GTX 10 series (Pascal) and GTX 16 series (Turing) cards would receive support for subsets of RTX technology in upcoming drivers, although functions and performance will be affected by their lack of dedicated hardware cores for ray tracing.
Nvidia worked with Microsoft to integrate RTX support with Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API (DXR). RTX is currently available through Nvidia OptiX and for DirectX. For the Turing architecture, it is also available for Vulkan.
In addition to ray tracing, RTX includes artificial intelligence integration, common asset formats, rasterization (CUDA) support, and simulation APIs. The components of RTX are:
- AI-accelerated features (NGX)
- Asset formats (USD and MDL)
- Rasterization including advanced shaders
- Raytracing via OptiX, Microsoft DXR and Vulkan
- Simulation tools:
- CUDA 10
RTX works by using acceleration structures and algorithms to build and update spatial search data structures. The acceleration structures function on two levels.
APIs using RTX
Nvidia OptiX is part of Nvidia DesignWorks. OptiX is a high-level, or "to-the-algorithm" API, meaning that it is designed to encapsulate the entire algorithm of which ray tracing is a part, not just the ray tracing itself. This is meant to allow the OptiX engine to execute the larger algorithm without application-side changes.
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