NVIDIA Pascal Goes Full In with HDR Support for Games and 4K Streaming for Movies

Alessio Palumbo

As usual for a new graphics card, most of the focus surrounding the paper launch of the GTX 1080 Pascal-based GPU was on its performance. However, the new card also sports a number of interesting new features like Simultaneous Multi-Projection, Fast Sync and Ansel.

This article, on the other hand, focuses on what's possibly been the least talked about feature: HDR support. Earlier this year, at CES 2016, AMD presented their HDR Initiative and now NVIDIA is answering with Pascal.

In terms of hardware functionality, the new cards will add the following to what was already available in Maxwell (12-bit color depth, BT.2020 wide color gamut, SMPTE 2084 (Perceptual Quantization), and HDMI 2.0b 10/12b for 4K HDR):

  • 4K@60hz 10/12b HEVC Decode (for HDR Video)
  • 4K@60hz 10b HEVC Encode (for HDR recording & streaming)
  • DP 1.4 ready HDR Metadata Transport (to connect to HDR displays using DP)

Obviously, hardware support alone isn't enough and NVIDIA announced to be working with several studios to implement HDR in the following games:

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Paragon
  • Shadow Warrior 2
  • The Witness
  • Lawbreakers
  • The Talos Principle
  • Obduction

According to what NVIDIA stated in the presentation embedded below, the implementation is pretty straightforward which lines up with Microsoft's statement on the matter. That's because modern games typically already render HDR and generally what needs to be done is to update the tone mapper to make it HDR aware, and then integrate some API calls so that the game can detect the HDR display and put it in HDR mode.

HDR monitors aren't coming until early next year, though, but NVIDIA has you covered in case you've bought one of the few HDR TVs available now.

If you own a SHIELD device, you'll be able to use GameStream to enjoy HDR titles on your HDR-compatible TV as shown in the image above.

But that's not all. NVIDIA Pascal is also the first GPU to allow 4K streaming on PC via Microsoft's PlayReady 3.0 standard. Dave Bossio, Group Program Manager at Microsoft, said:

The Pascal GPU family meets the highest standards for PlayReady 3.0 (SL3000). Meeting these stringent standards will enable the Pascal GPU family to play back the best premium video content on Windows PCs.

NVIDIa is also working with Netflix, so you'll be able to do 4K streaming of their library if you own a Pascal GPU. Speculation is that PlayReady 3.0 will be needed for UltraHD Blu-ray content, too.

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