NVIDIA Unveils Ray Tracing: Overdrive & RTXDI, Coming Soon to Cyberpunk 2077

Ray Tracing Overdrive Mode RTX 4090

As part of its many reveals from the GeForce Beyond special presentation, NVIDIA also announced something called Ray Tracing: Overdrive mode, which is coming soon to Cyberpunk 2077 via a free update. This new mode also includes RTX Direct Illumination, which NVIDIA has been experimenting with for over two years. RTXDI can introduce millions of direct lights to a game scene, though its implementation can, of course, vary depending on the developer's needs.

Here's how Cyberpunk 2077's Ray Tracing: Overdrive mode works in a nutshell, per NVIDIA.

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  • NVIDIA RTX Direct Illumination (RTXDI) gives each neon sign, street lamp, car headlight, LED billboard, and TV accurate ray-traced lighting and shadows, bathing objects, walls, passing cars, and pedestrians in accurate colored lighting;
  • Ray-traced indirect lighting and reflections now bounce multiple times, compared to the previous solution’s single bounce. The result is even more accurate, realistic and immersive global illumination, reflections, and self-reflections;
  • Ray-traced reflections are now rendered at full resolution, further improving their quality;
  • Improved, more physically-based lighting removes the need for any other occlusion techniques.

Jakub Knapik, Art Director at CD PROJEKT RED, said:

Here at CD PROJEKT RED, we are very proud to be technology innovators, and DLSS 3 gives us meaningful performance gains to tackle the addition of even higher levels of ray tracing to deliver a visually rich experience for our gamers.

Needless to say, Ray Tracing: Overdrive will be more taxing than regular ray tracing techniques on existing GeForce RTX hardware. Luckily, the upcoming Ada Lovelace GeForce RTX 4000 series GPUs will introduce NVIDIA DLSS 3 and a bunch of hardware and software enhancements that specifically target advanced ray tracing workloads, such as:

  • Shader Execution Reordering (SER), which reorders and parallelizes the execution of threads that trace rays without compromising image quality.
  • Opacity Micromaps - Accelerate ray tracing workloads by encoding the surface opacity directly onto the geometry, drastically reducing expensive opacity evaluation during ray traversal and enabling higher quality acceleration structures to be constructed. This technique is especially beneficial when applied to irregularly-shaped or translucent objects, like foliage and fences. On GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics cards, the Opacity Micromap format is directly decodable by ray tracing hardware, improving performance even further.
  • NVIDIA Real Time Denoisers (NRD) - A spatio-temporal ray tracing denoising library that assists in denoising low ray-per-pixel signals with real-time performance. Compared to previous-gen denoisers, NRD improves quality and ensures the computationally intensive ray-traced output is noise-free, without performance tradeoffs.  

There was no mention of any further games using Ray Tracing: Overdrive mode for now, but NVIDIA did talk about two additional games getting ray tracing soon. One is A Plague Tale: Requiem, which will support ray traced effects and DLSS 3 when it launches next month.

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The second game to be highlighted today is NetEase's martial arts themed Justice MMO game, which has often been at the forefront of ray tracing technology. Now, the Chinese developers have implemented path tracing with the launch of the new Fuyun Court location.

Justice now supports ReSTIR GI, RTX DI, NRD, DLSS 3, and NVIDIA Reflex. Dinggen Zhan, Justice Lead Programmer & Senior Expert at NetEase, stated:

The two technologies that have made the most visual difference in Justice are ray tracing and DLSS, and now we are pushing graphics fidelity to new levels with path tracing. DLSS 3 is giving us performance increases we’ve never seen before. It can even alleviate CPU bottlenecks for GeForce RTX 40 Series gamers - that’s insane.

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