NVIDIA Offers Clarification on Ray Tracing Support and Games with Proprietary Extensions

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In a recent statement, AMD confirmed that its Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards will support all ray-tracing titles using industry-based standards (e.g., Microsoft’s DXR), but not proprietary APIs and extensions.

The latter has created a bit of confusion as to which ray-traced games might be incompatible with RDNA 2 GPUs, but thanks to a Q&A with NVIDIA’s Brian Burke (via Wccftech), we now have a better idea of how this works.

Burke stated that the games he’s aware of that utilize NVIDIA’s custom Vulkan extensions are Quake II RTX, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and JX3. Every other ray-traced title on the market leverages Microsoft’s DirectX DXR API.

NVIDIA had to do this because Vulkan Ray Tracing was not released yet. However, AMD can support ray tracing in Vulkan if it created its own extensions. Otherwise, it can wait for Vulkan Ray Tracing to be released.

It isn’t clear whether Radeon RX 6000 Series users will ever be able to enjoy Quake II RTX, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and JX3 with ray tracing on those cards – that is up to AMD – but Burke stated that NVIDIA hasn’t done anything to prevent AMD from supporting ray tracing in these titles.

We’ve copied relevant parts of the interview below. NVIDIA fully supports the use of industry-standard APIs.

What ray tracing games are out now that use NVIDIA proprietary technology?

Burke: The vast majority of games released with ray tracing support use the industry standard Microsoft DirectX Ray Tracing (DXR) API. Three exceptions we are aware of include Quake II RTX, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and JX3, which use NVIDIA ray tracing extensions for Vulkan.

Does NVIDIA support the use of proprietary methods to add ray tracing support to games?

Burke: We support the use of industry standard APIs, such as DXR and the upcoming Vulkan Ray Tracing extension. Ahead of the release of the official Vulkan Ray Tracing extension, NVIDIA has enabled Vulkan developers to implement ray tracing via an NVIDIA extension.

Why did NVIDIA use extensions that will only work on NVIDIA GPUs in Quake II, Wolfenstein: Youngblood and JX3?

Burke: We believe in rapid innovation and open standards working together. At the time these early adopter games were being developed, the Vulkan working group had not yet released any specifications, and so shipping a vendor extension was the only way to enable these developers and bring ray tracing to our customers. It also helped gather feedback for the Khronos discussions. Shipping an early vendor extension is a common step in the standardization process.

Is NVIDIA putting up any roadblocks, either through publishers or the Khronos Group, that would prevent AMD from adding ray tracing support to Quake II, Wolfenstein: Youngblood and JX3 if they choose to?

Burke: Absolutely not. We’ve been contributing to the growth of the RT ecosystem for years and welcome other IHVs to add support.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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