Yesterday, NVIDIA unveiled their Turing GPU architecture and the new technology that comes with it. In addition they announced 21 games, both new and old, that would be receiving updates to add things like real-time ray tracing and deep learning super sampling. One of their biggest showcases was Square Enix’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is set to launch next month. The game will be receiving both real-time ray tracing and deep learning super sampling in a post-release patch. However, this early demo does not show promising results.

Multiple outlets took notice of the fact that the demo is set to 1080p with RTX switched on, not 4K which was a talking point during yesterdays conference. And while the Tomb Raider presentation from yesterday showed no noticeable loss in framerate when ray tracing was switched on, this playable demo has shown that to not be the case, with the framerate hitting between 30 and 50 frames per second on average, and that’s at 1080p. Keep in mind that this is running on the RTX 2080 Ti which should be the most capable of the new consumer Turing GPU’s.

This has caused many to believe that ray tracing is still far too early to be used in games, that the performance hit is still too high, and the prices of the GPU’s, consequently, are higher than they should be. It has led to a lot of skepticism with regards to the new Turing line. However, I feel like people aren’t seeing the bigger picture, nor are they taking the game itself into account.

When it comes to ray traced lighting, it’s something that has never been done in real-time before, it’s far too taxing for any current technology to handle. And while what NVIDIA is doing isn’t true ray tracing, it’s more of a backwards method blended with traditional rasterization techniques, it’s still a major feat to get any form of ray tracing to run in real-time, at a stable 1080p and 30 frames per second no less, with every other graphical bell and whistle cranked up to maximum including other NVIDIA GameWorks tech and the new DLSS method. Something that is only possible thanks to the increased power of the Turing architecture, and both its new RT cores and Tensor cores, the reasons for the price hike. A GTX 1080 Ti does not have these extra cores nor the raw power of the 20 series GPU’s, and as a result any attempt to run RTX lighting off of a 1080 Ti would probably make games unplayable unless you cranked the settings so low that it doesn’t even matter anymore.

So now keep that in mind, and realize that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still a month away, it still needs to be optimized, NVIDIA still needs to publicly release the new RTX cards and subsequently send out driver updates, and then Tomb Raider needs to receive the finished RTX patch. Performance in this playable demo is of an unfinished product, running on unreleased hardware, with an unfinished implementation of new technologies.

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Likewise, on a thread about this very topic over on ResetEra, a verified DICE employee spoke up and said:

“I think people will be surprised at how well this will run in their respective final releases.”

The implication made by the developer is that what players are seeing is either an early implementation or at least an unfinished one, and that with their own work on implementing real-time ray tracing into Battlefield V, they’re not having the same problem, but may have at one point, indicating that the RTX tech actually runs a lot better with the new cards than the Tomb Raider demo would suggest. Though some people who have played Battlefield V at the event, claim the demo is running at 1080p as well and appears to be lower than 60fps with RTX turned on, meaning that either DICE is just bluffing, or they fully expect to have the performance worries cleared up by the time the game launches in mid-October.

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In other words, it’s a game of “wait and see.”