Nvidia Takes on Next-Gen Lighting with its VXGI Global Illumination Tech

Nvidia picks up where Epic left off with its new real-time lighting engine and adds MFAA, DSR, and VR specific features to GameWorks.

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Interested in Nvidia's new GTX 980, but not quite sure that you really need all that pixel-pushing power? The GPU-maker hopes to entice potential customers over by adding a host of new features to its GameWorks initiative, including VXGI, a new real-time global illumination lighting engine.

VXGI stands for voxel global illumination, which works by converting a 3D scene into voxels and using them to store lighting information such as how much is emitted or reflected by that voxel. VXGI then uses a form of cone tracing to approximate how light is bounced around a scene.

And if that sounds a tad familiar, that's because Epic attempted something very similar (based on Nvidia's research) back when it announced Unreal Engine 4. The feature was removed before launch, which Nvidia put down to the feature being computationally "too expensive" for GPUs of the time.

Nvidia claims VXGI is much easier on the GPU, but the company has built specific hardware processing into the GTX 980 to help things along. VXGI is also coming to third-party engines, including Epic's Unreal and Crytek's CryEngine, later in the year.

Nvidia also announced a few other features for GameWorks to sit alongside the launch of the GTX 980. These include Dynamic Super Resolution, which renders a game at 4K resolution and downsamples it to a 1080p display for a sharper image, and MFAA, a new type of anti-aliasing that promises the quality of 4XMSAA at the performance cost of 2XMSAA.

Finally, Nvidia dropped a few tidbits for VR fans too. By using a combination of its new GameWorks technology, along with something it calls "asynchronous warp," the company hopes to dramatically reduce the latency of VR. It claims its technology can half the latency from an average of 50ms to 25ms. Nvidia also plans to fill the gap while developers work on their own VR games by using its 3D vision technology to add VR to existing titles.

That hasn't worked too well in the past, even for developers working on their own existing titles, but what do you guys think? Do you want to add VR support to your existing games? And does the thought of ultra-realistic lighting in games appeal to you, or will it just take away from the artistic vision of the developers? Let us know in the comments below.

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