Ray Tracing will get a makeover for video games in the future.
In short, Ray Tracing is a method to improve lighting quality in the 3D environment. This method uses linear light rays to propagate in the medium, in combination with the properties of the medium through which it passes, reflects, refracts, or is absorbed until the rays reach the viewing angle of the camera. But the real-time calculations of this method can accurately reflect light conditions in the real environment while still complying with most of the physical rules of light. Thanks to this, the brightness and the darkness of the things in the game are handled to suit the properties of the objects and the properties of the environment.
When a stone is illuminated, the backlit side will look darker than the heavily lit part. The light, when being refracted through the window glass, will make the room space look darker. Thanks to real-time calculations, developers can create a realistic and dynamic environment. However, with thousands of light rays reaching different objects and surfaces, ray tracing requires a good graphics processor to perform these heavy rendering tasks. Your hardware will have to calculate the processes in real-time and consider the intensity and complexity of the light rays. This is still a challenge to many current gaming systems.
Since its first introduction until now, ray tracing has created a new wave of hardware space and started reaching the consumer market with NVIDIA’s RTX cards in the last year. Built on the Turing architecture, these cards include multiple dedicated RT processing cores to focus on ray tracing and work with the main GPU.
Another special feature is that this card allows you to manually adjust the level of ray tracing, which makes older products obsolete with new technology. Even so, ray tracing has yet to make a push on the frame rates of games.
For consoles, both Xbox Scarlett and PS5 will use graphics processing cores provided by AMD with the goal of adding the most advanced ray tracing feature. At the moment, AMD doesn’t have a separate GPU on the market, and the company has only hinted that it is planning to spend shader cores on the graphics card to perform ray tracing in the near future. Of course, the hardware on the console will be completely different from that on the PC, so players will have to wait for a while until the most accurate information on how the next platform handles it.
In the past, when ray tracing was not available, a faster but “rudimentary” method was used, called pixelization of light and shadows in the game. However, this method cannot produce continuous reflected light rays because there are no real-time calculations. We can consider an example below with the game Metro Exodus. Without ray tracing, the cabins are quite bright but will not be true to reality. When it comes to ray tracing, the rays through the window will only illuminate a part of the cabin space and leave darker areas, helping the player to feel as close as possible to reality.
In fact, this technology has been used by skillful filmmakers like Pixar many years ago. Nevertheless, Pixar’s ray tracing only stops rendering for each normal frame, not real-time rendering. Although the introduction of ray tracing into the game started later, this feature could work in real-time to create scenes with high fidelity thanks to the power of the hardware. With the strong support coming from NVIDIA, we have the first 7 titles supported ray tracing including Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare and Cyberpunk 2077 which are coming soon.
Hopefully, this article with the above analysis can help you understand this term before these two series of consoles officially open for sale. Although it is just beginning, console manufacturers will have to try their best to apply it if they want to catch up with the majority of computer gamers in the context of what PC users can benefit from this feature.