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CAD Tech News (#92)

16 Aug, 2018 By: Cadalyst Staff


▶ NVIDIA's Turing Tech Takes Real-Time Ray-Tracing GPUs to Next Level

At SIGGRAPH 2018, the graphics solutions developer celebrates achievement of a longtime goal, and launches a new graphics processing unit (GPU) lineup starting at $2,300.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

You may know "Turing" as the name of a brilliant computer scientist — or of his eponymous test, which determines whether a machine appears human during conversational exchanges. This week, NVIDIA introduced a new Turing to the world, in the form of a graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture that NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang called the "greatest leap" in graphics progress since the invention of NVIDIA's CUDA GPU, back in 2006.

At the same time, NVIDIA also revealed its first GPUs based on the Turing architecture. During his keynote presentation at SIGGRAPH 2018, Huang hailed the new Quadro RTX as "the world's first ray-tracing GPU," capable of rendering photorealistic scenes interactively, in real time. With the ability to render as many as 10 giga-rays (each representing one billion light paths) per second, "the performance [of the Quadro RTX] is absolutely incredible," said Huang, who joked that it should be called "the world's first giga-ray GPU."

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang holds a new Quadro RTX GPU. Image courtesy of NVIDIA.
NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang holds a new Quadro RTX GPU. Image courtesy of NVIDIA.

While graphics technology has become increasingly sophisticated with each passing year, the realistic simulation of light has remained a roadblock to creating photorealistic graphics in real time. Ray tracing, which calculates the paths taken by light bouncing off various surfaces and materials, convincingly mimics the behavior of light in the real world — but is very computationally demanding. Real-time ray tracing, in which users can interact with scenes without a delay for processing each time an element of the scene is adjusted, has been the Holy Grail of computer graphics, Huang said. Now, a "standard workstation" equipped with one of the new Quadro RTX GPUs is capable of real-time ray tracing, NVIDIA says.

If this announcement seems somehow familiar, you may recall that NVIDIA first announced real-time ray tracing capabilities in March of this year, at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC). But as Alex Herrera pointed out in "What Does NVIDIA's Ray Tracing News Mean for the CAD Market?" that initial step in NVIDIA's plan did not represent "mainstream real-time ray tracing," as the Quadro GV100 price tag of $9,000 put it out of reach of the great majority of workstation users. The new Quadro RTX lineup, in contrast, includes three models: the 5000, 6000, and 8000 — priced at $2,300, $6,300, and $10,000, respectively. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

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