On the sidelines of the presentation of the GeForce RTX 4090 and 4080 cards, Nvidia announced that CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 will soon be updated to support Ray Tracing: Overdrive with RTX Direct Illumination, or RTXDI, a new technology tested over the past two years.
For decades, rendering ray-traced scenes with physically correct lighting in real-time has been considered the holy grail of graphics. At the same time, the geometric complexity of environments and objects continued to grow, as games and 3D graphics strove to provide the most accurate representations of the real world.
Achieving physically accurate graphics requires enormous computing power. Modern ray-traced games, such as Cyberpunk 2077, perform over 600 ray-traced calculations for each pixel just to determine lighting – a 16-fold increase over the first ray-traced games introduced four years ago.
How does RTXDI work? Basically, it makes lighting sources and the way they cast light and shadow on objects more realistic. Indirect lights have multiple bounces on them, instead of just one as was the case with previous ray tracing techniques. Additionally, ray-traced reflections are rendered in high resolution and physics-based lights remove the need for occlusion techniques.
Needless to say, the new ray tracing will be very expensive in terms of resources and can only be fully enjoyed on high-end systems. Given the prices of Nvidia’s new video cards, initially very few will be able to use them.