Microsoft has been at the Games Developers Conference this week and the company had a big announcement to make. At the event, Microsoft announced a new API for DirectX 12 called DirectX Raytracing API.
With this API, developers can improve rendering by adding Raytracing to current techniques. By doing so, the API can enhance the visual quality of games.
In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft says current 3D gaming is something of a myth. All titles use a technique called rasterization, which actually operates in two dimensions.
“Through approaches like z-buffering and occlusion culling, games have historically strived to minimize the number of spurious pixels rendered, as normally they do not contribute to the final frame. And in a perfect world, the pixels rendered would be exactly those that are directly visible from the camera”
By leveraging Raytracing in DirectX, Microsoft has been able to bring rasterization techniques closer to full 3D rendering. Raytracing is used in CGI production for movies and Microsoft wants to bring it in real-time to gaming.
“DXR will initially be used to supplement current rendering techniques such as screen space reflections, for example, to fill in data from geometry that's either occluded or off-screen. This will lead to a material increase in visual quality for these effects in the near future,” Microsoft explains.
The company says it will bring hardware acceleration to DirectX 12. Developers can use their current hardware to integrate Raytracing with engines such as Unreal Engine, Frostbite, and Unity.
Improving 3D Graphics
Now it is up to developers to leverage the API in their games. There is clear potential that this development could lead to a graphics revolution in the gaming world.
“DXR will initially be used to supplement current rendering techniques such as screen space reflections, for example, to fill in data from geometry that's either occluded or off-screen. This will lead to a material increase in visual quality for these effects in the near future.
Over the next several years, however, we expect an increase in utilization of DXR for techniques that are simply impractical for rasterization, such as true global illumination. Eventually, raytracing may completely replace rasterization as the standard algorithm for rendering 3D scenes.”