Future Nvidia GPUs could be 20% better in Ray Tracing

Nvidia is working on a new technique to improve ray tracing of future GPUs. Ray tracking is all about calculating light and reflections to create detailed lights and shadows in video games. It’s pretty demanding, but seems to excel in games designed for it like Control, or maybe even give new life to older titles like Half-Life. The new innovation is called Subwarp Interleaving and while it’s not ready to go yet, it looks like a potentially promising step forward for GPUs.

Spotted on Twitter by Ox22h (via Tom’s Hardware), Nvidia recently posted a research paper explaining this new development. Subwarp Interleaving works by being better optimized to deal with ray tracing trends with high yarn divergence and low warp occupancy in applications. It has shown an average gain of 6.3% above normal and can be up to 20% in best scenarios.

The researchers explained how the current GPU performance is part of the cause of the problem. “First, the GPU groups threads into units, which we call warps, which fetch from a single program counter (PC) and execute in a SIMT (single instruction, multiple thread) fashion. Second, GPU hides threads by scheduling concurrently between multiple active warps.”

This design interferes with ray tracing, resulting in warp death situations. Subwarp Interleaving is supposed to make better use of these characteristics, such as increasing hardware usability using diverging paths, as well as reducing any warp latency.

“When a long-latency operation blocks a warp and the GPU’s warp scheduler cannot find an active warp to switch to, a short projection scheduler can switch execution to a warp other than the existing warp.” researchers’ explanations.

To be implemented, Subwarp Interleaving requires architectural changes to existing GPUs, so we won’t see it in something like Nvidia’s new RTX 3090 Ti monster GPU. Still, it’s always good to see advancements in technology, and a 20% performance boost for ray tracing is nothing to worry about. No doubt, by the time this technology is ready to be implemented into graphics cards, we will see a bunch of other neat improvements to go with it.

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The source: Future Nvidia GPUs could be 20% better in Ray Tracing

Emma Bowman

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