Over the past few days leaks on the GeForce RTX 30 have intensified considerably. We recently saw new information that left us the possible specifications of the RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3070 and RTX 3060, and now a new rumor ensures that Ampere will offer a ray tracing performance upgrade that will multiply by four Turing performance.
We are going to analyze this data, since we have said something very important in a few words. Ray tracing is a rendering technology very demanding It allows to create highly realistic lighting effects, leftovers and reflections, but it has a prohibitive cost in terms of performance. GeForce RTX 20 series graphics cards feature RT cores that hardware accelerate the workload that ray tracing represents, relieving the shaders of this burden.
Today even the RTX 2080 Ti is not capable of delivering really good performance working with ray tracing in current generation games, not even if it is applied in a limited way to a specific element. For example, in Battlefield V ray tracing is applied only to reflections and may reduce performance by more than 50%, depending on the resolution used.
The cost of ray tracing is huge even if we have hardware acceleration, a problem NVIDIA has tried to solve with DLSS technology, Smart rescaling that renders at a lower than native resolution and combines different images to achieve superior graphic quality by reducing resource consumption and improving performance.
NVIDIA looked in the right direction, since rendering fewer pixels goes a long way in reducing the impact of ray tracing on performance. To put it simply, less pixels less rays, and therefore less workload. The result was not optimal at first, but with DLSS 2.0 we have reached a really interesting point.
That 400% improvement in ray tracing this rumor points to would mean activating ray tracing would no longer have a real cost in terms of gaming performance, or that this would be minimal and practically negligible. However, we must keep in mind that we’re still talking about limited ray tracing to a specific element, that is, the GeForce RTX 30 will not be able to render lightning effects, shadows and reflections generated with ray tracing in new generation games simultaneously, they will have to be limited to one in particular.
GeForce RTX 30: goodbye to the GTX series
Ampere, the architecture that the GeForce RTX 30 will use, will bring significant improvements that will affect both its gross performance and its ray tracing potential and efficiency. This new generation of graphics cards will have a higher shader count and will double the RT core count that we have seen in Turing, which means that an RTX 3060 could be capable of generating more “Lightning Strikes” than an RTX 2080 Ti. This does not mean that it will be superior in terms of gross power, but it could work with ray tracing more efficiently.
If everything we’ve said so far is confirmed, it is likely that the GeForce RTX 20 series will not age well and that they will devalue prematurely and at a faster rate than expected, but it will all depend on the sale price of the GeForce RTX. 30 and what AMD does with the Radeon RDNA 2. If the sale price of the GeForce RTX 30 is high, the GeForce RTX 20 series could be as an “affordable” option to access the ray tracing.
In case AMD surprises us with a series of Radeon RDNA 2 graphics cards at the height of the GeForce RTX 30, the situation could completely change and occur a price war that, in the end, it would end up benefiting all of us. We will see how the situation evolves and what happens between the third and fourth quarters of this year, two key dates for NVIDIA and AMD, since both are expected to launch their new graphics cards in that slot.
The GTX 16 series has enabled NVIDIA to offer a more affordable alternative to users who wanted to enjoy a state-of-the-art graphics card but were not interested in ray tracing, and therefore did not want to pay the cost of a serial RTX. 20. In general they have worked reasonably well, and there are models like the GTX 1660 Super that They are interesting in relation price-performance.
However, according to the latest information, NVIDIA does not plan to maintain that division with Ampere, that is, when the debut of said architecture occurs, all Ampere-based graphics cards will have ray tracing hardware. There will only be one range of products, the GeForce RTX 30, there will be no new GeForce without RT cores.
Is it a successful approach? Frankly i think not. It is true that ray tracing has become the standard of the future, but it is a technology that is still at an early stage and that not only is it not being used optimally, but it still takes a few years for that happens. Many users still have no real interest in ray tracing, and don’t want to overpay for something they don’t want.
I think that for NVIDIA it would be much better to maintain that RTX-GTX duality, at least for one more generation, since it would allow it to more realistically cover the market and reach a greater number of users.