What is AI Accelerated Ray Tracing?

Can AI accelerated ray tracing prove to be a massive leap for gamers or is it just marketing jargon

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AI accelerated ray tracing refers to the use of AI to enhance the process of ray tracing, a method used in graphics rendering to generate high-quality images by simulating the path of light and its interactions with virtual objects.

This technology is primarily designed to produce realistic lighting, reflections, and shadows in 3D environments for photorealistic rendering, thus enhancing the overall visual quality of games and other virtual simulations.

This process requires heavy computation, which is where AI comes into play. AI, particularly deep learning, can be employed to predict the outcomes of these interactions, thereby reducing the computational load and accelerating the rendering process.

The latest example of this is Nvidia’s third-generation ray-tracing technology integrated into the RTX 40 series graphics cards. Nvidia DLSS 3.0 employs Tensor cores to conduct AI computations. Additional measures, like the Optical Multi Frame Generation, prove to only enhance these concepts, allowing for unmatched performance in ray tracing operations.

These cores act as a mini neural network, providing predictions on the interactions of light rays with objects in a 3D scene. By learning and predicting these interactions, Tensor cores can help generate more realistic lighting and shadows in less time, making real-time ray tracing feasible in high-resolution games and gifting said games with impeccable image quality.

Does Ray Tracing Lower FPS?

Ray tracing can indeed lower FPS, the rate at which consecutive images (frames) appear on a display. The complex computations involved in ray tracing, especially when performed in real-time, can place a significant load on the GPU, potentially leading to reduced FPS and therefore less smooth gameplay.

However, technologies such as Nvidia’s DLSS help mitigate this impact. DLSS uses AI to upscale lower-resolution images in real time, which reduces the GPU’s load and helps recover some of the FPS lost due to ray tracing.

Furthermore, improvements in the latest generation of ray-tracing technology, like those found in the Nvidia RTX 40 series GPUs, continue to decrease the impact of ray-tracing on FPS. This intersection of AI and advanced hardware is driving a new era of ultra-realistic, high-performance gaming.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a compelling case study for AI-accelerated ray tracing and its impact on FPS. This graphically intensive game is renowned for its beautiful and immersive cybernetic world, made possible in large part by ray tracing.

However, this complex rendering technique can put a significant load on the graphics card, causing a drop in FPS. This is especially true when using the game’s highest graphics settings, which can even challenge the most powerful GPUs.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows