Richly rendered ‘Asteroids’ demo showcases power of Nvidia’s RTX graphics

Nvidia has released a new demo to showcase some of the advanced graphics capabilities of the company’s Turing architecture found on the latest RTX series graphics cards, like the flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The public demo, called Asteroids, showcases the new mesh shading capabilities, which Nvidia claims will improve image quality and performance when rendering a large number of complex objects in scenes in a game.

With Turing, Nvidia introduced a new programmable geometric shading pipeline, transferring some of the heavy workload from the processor onto the GPU. The GPU then applies culling techniques to render objects — in the case of this demo, the objects are asteroids — with a high level of detail and image quality.

“Turing introduces a new programmable geometric shading pipeline built on task and mesh shaders,” Nvidia graphics software engineer Manuel Kraemer explained in a detailed blog post explaining the benefits of mesh shading on Turing. “These new shader types bring the advantages of the compute programming model to the graphics pipeline. Instead of processing a vertex or patch in each thread in the middle of fixed function pipeline, the new pipeline uses cooperative thread groups to generate compact meshes (meshlets) on the chip using application-defined rules.”

In the demo, Nvidia showed that each asteroid contains 10 levels of details. Objects are segmented into smaller meshlets, and Turing allows the meshlets to be rendered in parallel with more geometry while fetching less data overall. With Turing, the task shader is employed first to check the asteroid and its position in the scene to determine which level of detail, or LoD, to use. Sub-parts, or meshlets, are then tested by the mesh shade, and the remaining triangles are culled by the GPU hardware. Before the Turing hardware was introduced, the GPU would have to cull each triangle individually, which produced congestion on the CPU and the GPU.

“By combining together efficient GPU culling and LOD techniques, we decrease the number of triangles drawn by several orders of magnitude, retaining only those necessary to maintain a very high level of image fidelity,” Kraemer wrote. “The real-time drawn triangle counters can be seen in the lower corner of the screen. Mesh shaders make it possible to implement extremely efficient solutions that can be targeted specifically to the content being rendered.”

In addition to using this technique to create rich scenes in a game, Nvidia said that the process could also be used in scientific computing.

“This approach greatly improves the programmability of the geometry processing pipeline, enabling the implementation of advanced culling techniques, level-of-detail, or even completely procedural topology generation,” Nvidia said.

Developers can download the Asteroids demo through Nvidia’s developer portal, and the company also posted a video showing how mesh shader can improve rendering.

Computing

Metro Exodus isn’t the ray tracing showcase Nvidia needs

The arrival of Nvidia's long-awaited DLSS feature has finally come, and it's for the post-apocalyptic action game, Metro Exodus. We took the implementation of both ray tracing and DLSS to the test to see how it performs.
Computing

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Computing

Having enough RAM is important, but stick to these guidelines to save some money

Although not quite as exciting as processors and graphics cards, RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC. Not having enough can hurt performance. So, how much RAM do you need?
Computing

Latest ‘Battlefield V’ update brings better performance to Nvidia RTX PCs

DLSS support is finally coming to Battlefield V thanks to an update that will arrive on February 12. DLSS will help boost game performance when real-time ray-tracing is enabled, even when the game is played at higher resolutions.
Gaming

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Computing

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Computing

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Computing

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.