Epic Games has confirmed it is bringing native support for DirectX Raytracing (DXR) to its Unreal Engine in the next release, version 4.22, as Nvidia continues to promote real-time ray tracing technology to game developers.
Real-time ray tracing using a system of hybrid rendering, first demonstrated outside the world of computer aided design (CAD) by Imagination Technologies in 2016, hit the big time with the launch of Nvidia's Turing architecture in its RTX family of graphics cards late last year. The company has, however, struggled to justify the high pricing of its first consumer-facing generation of products, directly blaming lower-than-expected sales for a slump in projected revenue. Its solution: a redoubling of its efforts to get developers to add Turing-specific functionality, including both ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) anti-aliasing, to their games, up to and including the release of a free handbook on the topic.
The company's efforts aren't going entirely unrewarded: The number of games either promising to support Turing-specific functionality in a future patch or actively supporting said functionality is increasing, slowly but surely, and will likely only accelerate on the news that Epic Games' Unreal Engine is to get native DirectX Raytracing (DXR) support - an application programming interface (API) for real-time hybrid ray tracing which is in theory vendor-neutral but at present only hardware accelerated when running on the RT Cores of Nvidia's Turing graphics processors.
In an announcement for the Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview release made to the developer forum, Epic's Victor Lerp confirmed that the popular game engine is to receive an initial implementation of real-time ray tracing and path tracing. This implementation, Lerp explains, includes both low-level support through a layer which runs atop Unreal Engine's DirectX 12 implementation to provide DirectX Raytracing support, and high-level features including soft shadows, reflections, reflected shadows, ambient occlusion, real-time global illumination, translucency, and a built-in denoiser.
These features, however, are described as 'early access' in a preview build Lerp warns is 'not fully quality tested [...] still under heavy active development, and should be considered unstable until the final release', while advising developers not to convert their existing projects to preview releases but instead test purely on project copies.
Full details on the Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview are available on the official forum post. Epic Games has not yet indicated when Unreal Engine 4.22 will be released in its final form.
February 24 2020 | 12:00