Ray tracing might be a massive performance hog, but it can be very pretty in the right circumstance. The only games that support the fancy lighting effect require Nvidia RTX graphics cards to run it for now, but that could change in the future. According to a new rumor about AMD’s upcoming Navi generation of GPUs, AMD could add support for ray tracing with its expected high-end solution, known as Navi 20, slated for a rough 2020 release.
One of the two major features Nvidia introduced with its RTX-Turing graphics cards in fall 2018 was ray tracing. Along with deep learning super sampling, it offered a new way for light to be rendered in games that could be manipulated in real time to deliver more realistic reflections and shadows. It still isn’t supported by many games, but the expansion of ray tracing support to last-generation GTX 10-series graphics cards and the new 16-series could help encourage developers to adopt it. AMD cards joining the ranks of ray tracing supporting hardware would only help matters further.
The rumor about such support being a major feature of Navi 20 graphics cards comes from Paul at RedGamingTech. His source (or sources) also claims that early tests show it having less of a performance hit for the rest of the gaming experience than Nvidia’s RTX ray tracing implementation.
While we can’t speculate on Nvidia versus AMD performance in 2020, it seems perfectly viable for an AMD card to be able to handle ray tracing, as we’ve already seen Crytek’s Neon Noir demo that ran well enough at 30 FPS on a Vega 56 — far from a top-tier gaming card at this point.
Elsewhere in his video, Paul suggests that Navi 10 and 20 would both be based on modified versions of the Graphics Core Next architecture, similar to the last few generations of AMD cards, including Polaris RX 500 GPUs and Vega cards like the 56, 64, and Radeon VII. It will, however, enjoy improvements implemented by Raja Koduri while he was with the Radeon Technology Group (he now works at Intel on its upcoming graphics card). These should improve fill rate and the geometry engine, as per WCCFTech.
Other rumors about Navi suggest that it could enjoy variable rate shading, to focus graphical resources on creating higher fidelity element of a scene, while scaling back those that the player isn’t looking at. It may also be the main graphics architecture used in the next-generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony.