Virtual Reality is finally here after years of anticipation, and it's been well worth the wait. At NVIDIA we've been working from the beginning of VR's resurgence to create technologies, tools and best practices that enhance the VR experience.
Now, with the new GeForce GTX 1080 and the new Pascal Architecture, we're enabling a new level of presence in VR by introducing new technologies that will make your VR experiences more immersive and realistic.
With VR performance is key - Virtual Reality headsets render games and applications at a resolution equivalent to 3024x1680, and need to do so at a sustained 90 FPS. Failure to maintain a constant 90 FPS results in stuttering and hitching that ruin the experience.
With the new GeForce GTX 1080, Virtual Reality performance is up to 2X faster than with the GeForce GTX TITAN X. This remarkable improvement comes courtesy of the amazing graphics horsepower of Pascal, combined with our new Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology, which enables new VRWorks Lens Matched Shading and Single Pass Stereo rendering techniques.
For decades PC gamers enthusiastically enjoyed their games on flat 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 monitors. Thankfully technology has advanced, and we can now play with three monitors in NVIDIA Surround, on curved monitors, and even in Virtual Reality.
With the new Pascal-architecture Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology we can implement several new techniques that improve your experience on these displays. And in Virtual Reality, improve performance, too.
The first of these new Virtual Reality techniques is Lens Matched Shading, which builds upon the Multi-Res Shading technology introduced alongside our previous-generation Maxwell architecture. Lens Matched Shading increases pixel shading performance by rendering more natively to the unique dimensions of VR display output. This avoids rendering many pixels that would otherwise be discarded before the image is output to the VR headset.
Single Pass Stereo turbocharges geometry performance by allowing the head-mounted display's left and right displays to share a single geometry pass. We're effectively halving the workload of traditional VR rendering, which requires the GPU to draw geometry twice — once for the left eye and once for the right eye.
This improvement is especially important for geometry-heavy scenes, and those featuring significant levels of tessellation, which remains the most effective way of adding real detail to objects and surfaces in VR.
With tessellation, affected game elements can be accurately lit, shadowed and shaded, and can be examined up close in Virtual Reality. With other solutions, such as Bump Mapping or Parallax Occlusion Mapping, the simulation of geometric detail breaks down when the player approaches or examines affected objects from any angle, which harms immersion. By increasing geometry performance and tessellation by up to 2x, developers are able to add more detail that players can examine up close, significantly improving the look of the game and the player's level of presence.
Together, Pascal's improved performance, and new Single Pass Stereo and Lens Matched Shading significantly improve the Virtual Reality experience for GeForce GTX users.
NVIDIA has spent decades working to perfect 3D graphics, but with VR great graphics demand great audio to create a sense of presence. To this end, NVIDIA has created a game-changing advancement called VRWorks Audio.
Today's VR applications provide positional audio, telling users where a sound comes from within an environment. However, sound in the real world reflects more than just location of the audio source -- sound is a function of the physical environment. For example, a voice in a small room will sound different than the same voice outdoors because of the reflections and reverb caused by the sound bouncing off the walls of the room. Using NVIDIA's OptiX ray tracing engine, VRWorks Audio is able to trace the path of sound in an environment in real-time, delivering physical audio that fully reflects the size, shape, and material properties of the virtual world.
Simply put, we're able to simulate physically-accurate, super realistic real-time audio using the power of your graphics card.
If you've been a gamer for some time you've almost certainly played a game with CPU or GPU PhysX, or our new FleX effects. These technologies add more realistic physics effects, and enable interactions between the player's character and the world they're inhabiting. In Virtual Reality, more often than not you are the player in the center of the action, directly interacting with objects and the world itself. As such, the world needs to react realistically to maintain the user's sense of presence in the virtual world.
Realistically modelling touch interactions and environmental behavior is critical for delivering full presence in VR. And by adding touch interactivity with haptics we can amplify the degree of immersion.
Existing VR experiences deliver these effects through a combination of positional tracking, hand controllers, and haptics. With NVIDIA's new VR Touch PhysX Constraint Solver, we can instead detect when a hand controller interacts with a virtual object and enable the game engine to provide a physically-accurate visual and haptic response.
By providing this improved, ready-made, all-in-one solution to game developers we can save them time, effort and money, and improve the experiences of gamers.
As you might expect, we're also bringing our PhysX and FleX visual effects to VR, so that interactions, events and actions involving the player or occurring around the player are realistic, physically accurate, and representative of what players would expect to see in the real world.
Over the years PhysX and FleX have created visual effects for just about anything you can imagine - explosions, cloth, water, snow, gore, volumetric weather effects, and on and on, and on. PhysX has done them all, and more, and now your own actions in the virtual world can influence the actions, reactions, and interactions of these effects.
The great news is that you won't have to wait long to experience VRWorks Graphics, VRWorks Audio, and VR PhysX - all three are fully utilized in "NVIDIA VR Funhouse", a NVIDIA-developed VR experience that's coming soon. Learn more about this highly immersive, extremely entertaining experience here.
Combined, the technologies discussed in this story form VRWorks, a comprehensive suite of features that allow developers to create more detailed, more immersive, and faster-performing VR experiences that you won't want to miss.