Ray tracing the focus of Nvidia's new Turing platform and GPUs
At the SIGGRAPH conference this week, Nvidia unveiled its latest GPU architecture, as well as three new chips based on it. Named Turing, the eighth-generation platform is designed with a focus on ray tracing, and the three new GPUs, known as the Quadro RTX 8000, 6000 and 5000, are made to harness that for professional use in film, video and simulation.
Ray tracing is a rendering technique known for producing some of the most lifelike images possible, but notorious for the amount of computational power it takes. Essentially, the method traces the path of light through a virtual scene, rendering in detail how those rays react with objects, producing realistic reflection, refraction and scattering effects. But of course, that comes at a cost.
Turing is designed to boost that kind of imaging, with dedicated RT Cores working together with Tensor Cores that use AI inferencing to enable real-time ray tracing. The new system can apparently run simulations six times faster than the previous Pascal platform. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, says the advance is "the single greatest leap that we have ever made in one generation."
At SIGGRAPH, Huang unveiled the first three GPUs to be built on the new architecture. The Quadro RTX 5000 is the entry-level chip, with 16 GB of memory, 3,072 CUDA Cores and 384 Tensor Cores. The RTX 6000 ups the game a bit, with 24 GB of memory, 4,608 CUDA Cores and 576 Tensor Cores. And at the top of the line sits the RTX 8000, with the same number of CUDA and Tensor Cores as the 6000 but with double the memory. As far as the key ability goes – ray tracing – the RTX 5000 is apparently capable of processing 6 GigaRays per second, while the 6000 and 8000 up the game to 10 GigaRays.
These beefy cards don't come cheap though, and they definitely aren't meant for your home rig. When they launch in the last quarter of 2018, the Quadro RTX 5000 is expected to cost US$2,300, the RTX 6000 will be $6,300 and the RTX 8000 a whopping $10 grand. These GPUs are designed for professional use like film and video creation, automotive and architectural design, and scientific simulations and visualization. Still, the inevitable march of technological progress means we'll probably see consumer products with this tech in the future.
The complete SIGGRAPH presentation can be seen in the video below.