AMD Claims Support for Real-Time Ray Tracing on all of its DX12 GPUs

By Subhajit Ghosh

AMD’s only competitor in the GPU market, NVIDIA launched its RTX series of GPUs last year, and one of its features was extensively marketed, the support for Real-time Ray Tracing using the RT cores NVIDIA had included in those cards. An interview with AMD’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, David Wang, in the Japanese publication 4Gamer states that AMD will bring its own ray tracing solution to market in-time, but that the company is focused on other priorities in the short-term. But, now AMD is claiming that real-time Ray Tracing is not exclusive to just NVIDIA RTX GPUs and that all of AMD’s DirectX 12 GPUs support real-time Ray Tracing via Microsoft’s fallback layer in DirectX Raytracing.

The support might be there, but AMD users will still not be able to use the Ray Tracing effects as AMD has not added any support for Microsoft’s fallback layers in its drivers. One of the reasons behind this could be the substandard performance with Ray Tracing enabled via these fallback layer method as AMD’s GPUs currently lack the hardware required to support the tech properly.

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Real Time Ray Tracing

7nm is likely to be a very important node for DXR support, because the die shrink it enables will allow NVidia (and theoretically AMD) to dedicate more hardware to ray tracing capabilities in the same amount of physical space.

There’s the fact that ray tracing isn’t new and doesn’t actually require specialized hardware support to function. You can run a GPU-based ray tracer on many different kinds of hardware. Adding specialized hardware blocks to a GPU to handle specific parts of the ray tracing process is a good way to improve efficiency and performance/watt, but AMD has a point when it says it wants to be able to offer the feature at every price point in the product stack.

NVidia has opted for an approach in which these capabilities are reserved to the high-end RTX line-up. Adding these specialized capabilities in hardware isn’t free — it takes dedicated silicon to handle them, and that silicon could theoretically have been spent on building a GPU that’s better at conventional rasterization instead.

Ray Tracing
AMD Replies

So while the claim of all AMD DX12 GPUs supporting Real-time Ray Tracing is true, AMD users still won’t be able to use the feature until AMD produces a graphics card powerful enough to support the tech and deliver adequate performance. So till then, if you want to enjoy the Ray tracing effects while gaming, NVIDIA is the only option for you.

In short, it’s complicated.

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