During the presentation of the GeForce RTX 2080 graphics cards last week, Nvidia spent most of its time on ray tracing. This is the advanced light model technology that can bring a new level of realism to gaming. But these new cards can do more than just ray tracing. One of the other potential standout features is variable speed shading, which is a powerful feature that is an essential prerequisite for another technology called foveated rendering.
Dynamic foveated rendering is a process that only completely makes the part of the screen you are watching. Everything beyond that focus is just as detailed as your brain needs to convince you that it's real. This is beneficial because it saves the graphic horsepower of a computer just for the part of the image that matters, and all the power that foveated rendering saves can return to making the focus point even better.
Foveated rendering is something that can begin to appear in several places ̵
Nvidia's new GPUs, RTX 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti, all come with variable shading support that will enable foveated rendering. I do not want to pretend to fully understand how variable speed shading works. There is something Microsoft just patented in February. Simply put, it allows a graphical program to switch quality on reproduction of particular parts of a 3D scene in airplanes. This quick setting of quality will enable reproduction to keep your eyes moving.
To keep track of where you look, we already have the technology in Tobii Eye Tracker. The imager can look at your eyes and understand exactly where on a screen you see.
I traveled to Tobii to ask for variable shading and this sees this as a big chance that technology will take off.
"Nvidia's new variable rate shadowing creates many opportunities for optimization, including eyebrow-based foveation benefits powered by Tobii eye tracking hardware and SDKs," said a Tobii spokesman. "As more organizations across the hardware and software ecosystem are developing and developing native support for foveated rendering-related features, we should still expect better results."
Of course, Tobii recognizes that no piece of the puzzle will lead to an adoption of foveated rendering overnight. Technology needs time.
"The reality is that while key components such as GPU and eye tracking hardware are important parts of making foveated gjengis a reality," Tobii spokesman said. "Full impression of the benefits requires that every part of the stack – like CPU, GPU, game engine and eye tracking hardware – is designed and optimized to support foveated rendering. The good news is that rapid progress is taking place right now in these areas, which gives the promise of this technology closer than ever. "
However, the bottom line here is that the inclusion of variable speed shading in the RTX chips should make it even easier for the other parts of the rendering chain. Tobii expects gaming engines to quickly implement support for dynamic fove based on what Nvidia cards can, and then it should be possible for developers to experiment with the technology.
And if you are skeptical about technology, do not be
It works so well that it's scary.