Unity Announces Support for NVIDIA VRWorks at GDC 2016 – Gameworks 3.1 SDK Also Released

Unity Technologies announced today at GDC 2016 that their engine will now support NVIDIA VRWorks, including VR SLI and Multi-res Shading. NVIDIA also released their Gameworks 3.1 SDK on Github that incorporates several technologies aimed to enhance the GeForce and PC Gaming ecosystem that have been included in some of the best AAA titles to date.

NVIDIA's VRWorks Now Officially Supported By Unity Engine

According to NVIDIA, direct support built within the Unity engine will make integration of NVIDIA VRWorks a lot simpler for game developers. VRWorks, already supported by Epic's Unreal Engine 4, is NVIDIA's Software Development Kit (SDK) for VR. The following slide from NVIDIA shows all the latest technologies incorporated in Gameworks since its emergence:

It’s a comprehensive set of APIs, libraries, and features enabling headset and game developers to deliver amazing VR experiences.

Two key features for game and application developers are:

• VR SLI—provides increased performance for virtual reality apps where multiple GPUs can be assigned a specific eye to dramatically accelerate stereo rendering. With the GPU affinity API, VR SLI allows scaling for systems with >2 GPUs.

• Multi-Res Shading—an innovative new rendering technique for VR whereby each part of an image is rendered at a resolution that better matches the pixel density of the warped image. Multi-Res Shading uses Maxwell’s multi-projection architecture to render multiple scaled viewports in a single pass, delivering substantial performance improvements.


Those interested in more technical details may read this brand new presentation document. Unity Technologies has a live stream event due at 9AM PT today, where we can expect further announcements about the Unity engine.

NVIDIA Gameworks 3.1 SDK Released - Tons of Updates For PC Gaming To Enhance  AAA Titles

In addition to the VRWorks announcement, NVIDIA also announced the worldwide availability of Gameworks 3.1 SDK which will include the latest gaming technologies. The new software developers kit introduces new groundbreaking graphics techniques for shadows and lighting as well as two new physical simulation algorithms released as betas.

“It’s our passion for gaming that drives us to tackle the technical problems presented by real-time rendering and simulation,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “Our GameWorks technologies push the boundaries of what’s possible in real time, enabling developers to ship their games with state of the art special effects and simulations”.

The three new GameWorks rendering techniques for lighting and shadows include:

  • NVIDIA Volumetric Lighting — an advanced lighting technique that simulates how light behaves as it scatters through the air and atmosphere. NVIDIA Volumetric Lighting was first introduced in the hit video gameFallout 4.
  • NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (HFTS) — an algorithm for drawing high-fidelity shadows that transition smoothly from hard shadows near the occluding object, to proper soft shadows in regions farther away. HFTS debuted in the hit video gameTom Clancy’s The Division.
  • NVIDIA Voxel Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO) — NVIDIA’s highest quality algorithm for real-time ambient occlusion, VXAO is a shading technique that adds depth and realism to any scene. It surpasses older techniques by calculating shadows in world-space using all scene geometry, as opposed to screen space techniques that can only shadow from geometry visible to the camera. VXAO debuted in the hit video gameRise of the Tomb Raider.

We had previously learned that Rise of the Tomb Raider also uses NVIDIA VXAO which is a Voxel based ambient occlusion effect whose tracing is approximately three times cheaper than full fledged Global Illumination.When compared to SSAO, this kind of Ambient Occlusion also provides a more stable effect throughout the rendered world. This technology has a co-relation with ROVs (Rasterized  Ordered Views) on new cards such as Maxwell and is a part of the DirectX 12 API.


To create that volumetric light spilling across the scene (sometimes called “god rays”) Bethesda worked with NVIDIA, who’ve they worked with dating back to Morrowind’s cutting-edge water. The technique used here runs on the GPU and leverages hardware tessellation. It’s beautiful in motion, and it adds atmospheric depth to the irradiated air of the Wasteland. Like all the other features here, we’ve made it work great regardless of your platform. NVIDIA as a key partner to leverage image quality of Bethesda’s Fallout 4 title.


NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (HFTS) used in The Division which is a part of the Gameworks 3.1 SDK. HBAO+ and PCSS are features that run well with NVIDIA’s Kepler and Maxwell based cards but the latest HFTS (Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows) feature is a totally new technology being introduced today which is in general an advanced shadow technique that utilizes the geometry engines of NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs to create realistic and accurate hard shadows.

The pair of extensions to the NVIDIA PhysX library include:

  • NVIDIA PhysX-GRB — a new implementation of NVIDIA’s popular PhysX rigid body dynamics SDK, which has been used in hundreds of games. This hybrid CPU/GPU physics pipeline improves performance by a factor of up to 6X for moderate to heavy simulation loads.
  • NVIDIA Flow — a computational fluid dynamics algorithm that simulates and renders combustible fluids such as fire and smoke. Unlike previous methods, Flow isn’t limited to simulation of the fluids inside a bounding box.

NVIDIA has also released a roadmap stating that they will be offering more updates to the Gameworks 3.1 SDK in June followed by the release of the Gameworks 3.2 SDK in September 2016. More updates and information related to Gameworks will be revealed at upcoming events so be sure to stay tuned.

NVIDIA Lists Down 10 Ways of How They Are Making VR A Reality For Gamers


1) NVIDIA is building the fastest GPUs for VR.

There are two platforms for immersive VR gaming and experiences: entry-level experiences provided by consoles and premier experiences provided by PCs. Consider the view of veteran industry watcher Jon Peddie, of Jon Peddie Research:

“VR will be a multi-tier experience, like all entertainment platforms. Consoles will appeal to the casual user, whereas the PC with three to four times the processing power will be the platform for the intense gamer. In the PC market, NVIDIA has a substantial market share in enthusiast graphics boards, the type needed for Oculus and HTC VR experiences.”

Just like with video games, a PC with a GeForce GTX GPU offers the richest VR experience, with more performance, higher immersion and great fidelity. Even the lowest VR Ready GeForce GTX GPU offers double the performance of console.1 And given that immersive VR requires seven times the processing power of traditional 3D games, you really need that performance to get the best experience.2

2) NVIDIA’s VR SDK, VRWorks, is seeing broad adoption.

NVIDIA has created the VRWorks software development kit to provide headset and application developers with the best performance, lowest latency and plug-and-play compatibility for VR. The top game engines that are being used for creating VR games, including Unity, Unreal Engine and Max Play, are now integrating NVIDIA VRWorks. HTC and Oculus headsets have added support for VRWorks. It’s being adopted by cutting-edge VR developers like Sólfar Studios with Everest VR, Valve Software with The Lab, ILMxLAB with Star Wars Trials on Tatooine and InnerVision Games with Thunderbird: The Legend Begins.

3) NVIDIA GPUs provide Multi-res Shading for up to 50 percent more performance.

NVIDIA Multi-res Shading is an innovative rendering technique for VR in which each part of an image is rendered at a resolution that better matches the final image a user sees on the headset. The technology is integrated and available today to developers in Unreal Engine with performance gains of up to 50 percent. That enables developers to put more visual quality into their VR games and experiences

4) NVIDIA’s Game Ready drivers means VR games ‘just work’ from day one.

Any solution is only as good as the GPU’s drivers. Our Game Ready drivers are recognized as the best in the industry. NVIDIA works closely with developers to make sure games perform well on the day the game ships. This is incredibly important for VR, as the slightest stutter or performance dip can ruin the experience. Delivering launch day drivers will be a big difference for VR games and applications.

5) Our GeForce GTX VR Ready program is more than 100 partners strong.

NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX VR Ready program makes it easy for consumers to get the right gear for VR. Navigating an emerging technology like VR can be confusing — so we’ve worked with our partners worldwide to simplify the buying process. The GeForce GTX VR Ready badge quickly shows if a PC or graphics card is capable of handling the demands of VR. Our program currently has more than 100 PC makers, system builders, add-in card partners and retailers around the globe.

6) VR-ready notebooks are powered by NVIDIA.

Notebooks that feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPUs are the only VR-ready notebooks in the world. These powerful NVIDIA notebook GPUs enable developers and gamers to take their immersive VR experiences with them on the go.

7) NVIDIA GPUs are driving Oculus Ready PCs.

In addition, NVIDIA is not the only one with a VR-ready program. Oculus, makers of the Rift headset, has its own program. And every Oculus Ready PC to date is driven by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU.

8) NVIDIA makes immersive VR accessible.

There is a misconception that VR requires performance capabilities out of reach for most gamers. Truth be told, the GeForce GTX 970 GPU is the most popular graphics card on the Steam survey and millions already have it in their machines. This means more consumers are ready to enjoy immersive VR today.

9) NVIDIA is bringing more performance to mobile VR.

NVIDIA is continuing to push forward the state of the art for mobile-based VR experiences. You can find NVIDIA Tegra processors powering several mobile VR and augmented reality devices, including headsets from GameFace Labs and Atheer. Thanks to the performance of Tegra, developers can tackle new classes of mobile VR/AR experiences.

10) NVIDIA is accelerating 360-degree video for VR.

NVIDIA GPUs are at the heart of 360-degree video used in VR. NVIDIA’s CUDA programming model is used to rapidly stitch video from multiple cameras together into a single 360-degree panorama. At NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in April, attendees will find a full speaker track on VR, including talks from 360-degree video companies that use GPU acceleration, such as Jaunt VR and VideoStitch. via NVIDIA Blog

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