NVIDIA patent could lead to more realistic shadows in video games
Nvidia has made a name for itself not only by being one of two customer-oriented graphics card manufacturers on the market, but also by focusing on the research and development of a multitude of cutting-edge 3D rendering technologies. From the company’s own ray tracing solution, RTX, to its backend latency optimization features, such as Nvidia Reflex.
So it’s not particularly odd that Nvidia is submitting a brand new shadow casting patent which, on the face of it, may well lead to vastly improved area light shadows. Curiously, this particular patent describes a new way of rendering shadows: a technique that works in parallel with ray tracing and does not incur such a large performance penalty, although it does appear to come with a setback. potential custody.
Specifically, Nvidia used its latest patent to describe voxel cone tracing, VCT. This technique is used by determining four points in a given space which are then used to determine light occlusion and shadow rendering. While the list of games that use raytracing well is quite impressive by now, Nvidia’s patent implies that casting shadows could be done differently. Namely, while ray tracing requires many area light samples alone to often provide visually noisy results, VCT is more efficient and visually striking, with the apparent downside being that it can only be used for rectangular lights.
Although there are rumors that the RTX 4000 GPUs will be significantly faster than anything that has come before, Nvidia is clearly interested in optimizing the RTX capabilities of its hardware. By using VCT to create shadows, developers could apparently leverage cone-shaped light sources that would combine to provide a crisp, realistic shadow with less performance penalty than might currently be possible with regular ray tracing.
There’s no doubt that this year’s Nvidia GPUs will set new performance records in ray-traced rendering, but it’s been all but confirmed that the RTX 4000 will have immense power to deliver on that front. By rendering a more accurate and realistic image with a reduced rendering cost, Nvidia could potentially look for ways to improve the performance per watt of newer GPUs in cutting-edge titles, which is always a good thing.
Some recent reports suggest that Nvidia RTX 4000 destroyed 3090 in Control, but it’s entirely possible that future optimizations will help even older RTX 3000 and RTX 2000 graphics cards stay relevant longer through the use of VCT and other similar techniques. However, with the patent only recently filed, it’s likely that voxel cone tracing won’t be exploited in video games anytime soon.
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