Here’s what Nvidia’s Justin Walker had to say about Crytek’s AMD ray tracing demo

Game developers Crytek snuck out a demo of real-time ray tracing on its CryEngine 5.5 engine, on a rig with an AMD Vega 56 graphics card last week – ahead of Nvidia’s official reveal that its older GPUs will retroactively get ray tracing support.

Crytek’s ‘Neon Noir’ demo shows a drone racing through a nocturnal Blade Runner-esque city scape, zipping by rain-streaked window panes and a smashed mirror.

You can watch it below, it’s pretty impressive, and is “both API and hardware agnostic, enabling ray tracing to run on most mainstream, contemporary AMD and Nvidia GPUs.”

During a media call, Nvidia’s product manager for GeForce desktop GPUs Justin Walker was asked for his thoughts on the Crytek demo, specifically, ‘What non-RTX Nvidia cards will offer equivalent performance to Vega 56 in the Neon Noir demo?’

Walker expected that a rig with a GTX 1080 would give a similar performance to that, but was quick to talk up the benefits of Nvidia’s newest GPUs:

“In general, a Vega 56 is what, that’s like a 1080 or so… but, you know, we’re very much looking forward to accelerating that on our RTX [GPUs], we’re looking at it now. We’re looking forwards to be able to – because, you know, the RT cores [in 20 Series cards], whatever you see on the non-RTX GPUs, will be accelerated dramatically more. So we’re certainly looking forwards to getting that going.”

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Nvidia’s 20 Series cards – the RTX 2060, RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti – all feature processor cores which are dedicated to running real-time ray tracing, and Tensor cores for AI processes.

While the new GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti cards feature efficiencies like adaptive shading, they lack RT and Tensor cores. Elsewhere, Walker admitted that real-time ray tracing on older cards would not be as dramatic, and, with no dedicated AI cores, there will be no DLSS support either:

“It’s just simply not practical on non-Turing [cards]. Without Tensor cores, DLSS will not accelerate your games. There’s no reason to use it.”

DLSS – deep-learning super sampling – is a feature which effectively counteracts the frame rate drop you see whenever you enable ray tracing on games like Metro Exodus and Battlefield 5.

“Like I said, we fully expect to see ray tracing in every major game… and ray tracing, of course, can run on a CPU, can run on a GPU, but of course it runs best on RTX, because it has dedicated hardware.

“We’re certainly looking forwards to accelerating that, and anything that CryEngine comes up with RTX, because with dedicated hardware it’s gonna run anything with ray tracing a whole lot better.”

As for the Neon Noir and CryEngine 5.5, Crytek says that its new engine will be optimised to benefit from enhancements like DLSS, so while its engine is platform agnostic, games should run more smoothly on systems with dedicated RT and AI cores – and if DirectX 12 and Vulkan are supported.

What do you think about the Crytek demo, Nvidia and ray tracing in general? Reckon TimeSplitters 4 would look extra tidy with ray tracing bouncing light particles off of Cortez’s big baldy head? Or are you not that bothered and only care about squeezing out the highest frame rates possible? Let us know @TrustedReviews.