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Windows 10 October 2018 Update brings DirectX ray tracing to gaming PCs

DirectX Raytracing Graphic Rendering
Use of ray tracing in the upcoming video game, Battlefield V. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Today, October 2, marks a milestone for gamers everywhere thanks to Microsoft’s release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Along with a collection of other new features, the update brings the first public support for Microsoft’s DirectX ray tracing technology. Now, computers can take advantage of graphics hardware that supports ray tracing, such as Nvidia’s lineup of GeForce RTX cards, to render stunning in-game lighting scenarios in real time.

Ray tracing is a technology that has been used to render animations in movies and other computer graphics where the accuracy of light is critical. However, the computation needed for ray tracing has made it nearly impossible to bring the technology to games in real time. As a result, game developers and designers have estimated how light reacts in an environment, pre-shading scenes when possible.

Now, Windows 10’s latest update brings hybrid ray tracing to PCs which are equipped to handle the task. While ray tracing an entire game environment on a consumer machine in real time is still not possible, adapting the old world of rasterized graphics with aspects of ray tracing allows us to see many of the benefits that the technology offers.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Exclusive Ray Tracing Video

Rasterized graphics use basic geometric shapes to render scenes, such as the ones we see in our favorite video games. Ray tracing takes on a more physics-based approach, crafting what is seen by determining how different rays of light fall on objects. By still using rasterized graphics, while employing select ray tracing for enhanced light, a hybrid experience is created.

Games have already started taking advantage of the new technology coming out of companies such as Nvidia, with three blockbuster titles that will have future support: Battlefield V, Metro Exodus, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Those who don’t want to jump into games to test out their PC setup can benefit from 3DMarks’ upcoming benchmark for ray tracing.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update has officially opened the floodgates for developers to begin creating games and other graphical content in a way we have never previously seen. However, if gaming isn’t your thing, be sure to check out all of the other great features now available in the Windows update.

Michael Archambault
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael Archambault is a technology writer and digital marketer located in Long Island, New York. For the past decade…
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