Nvidia's new GPUs can handle real-time ray tracing

Turing GPU

Nvidia has unveiled its Turing chip architecture and debuted a new range of GPUs capable of real-time ray tracing at SIGGRAPH 2018 last night.

The Quadro RTX 5000, 6000 and 8000 graphics processors will be the first processors to launch with the company's new architecture, offering higher-bandwidth processing provided by up to 4,608 CUDA cores and support for high-bandwidth GDDR6 memory.

Though perhaps best known for creating the GPUs that power high-end gaming PCs, these new units are professional-grade cards designed to handle intensive 3D-modelling and rendering workloads for users like graphic designers and 3D artists.

"Turing is Nvidia's most important innovation since we launched modern computer graphics nearly two decades ago," said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, speaking at the start of the annual SIGGRAPH conference. "Turing will reset the industry, opening up amazing creative possibilities that until recently were assumed to be years away."

The big news is that the new cards can perform ray tracing in real time. Ray tracing, a technique which uses digital reconstructions of light paths and reflections to create images. This highly demanding technique was thought to be impossible with just one graphics card, but the new Turing-based GPUs are apparently capable of pulling it off.

In addition, the new cards also feature support for neural network training tools to help develop AI applications, USB-C hardware support and the ability to network two GPUs together for increased memory capacity, as well as a range of features to support VR content creation.

The Quadro RTX 5000, 6000 and 8000 won't be cheap though. They'll cost $2,300, $6,300 and $10,000 respectively, with the top-range processor packing in a whopping 48GB of RAM. They are expected to be available from Q4, and will also be integrated into professional workstations from manufacturers like HP, Lenovo and Dell.

Nvidia will also incorporate the new cards into its new Quadro RTX Server; a render farm which will offer access to a GPU for multiple users, transforming it into a datacentre-like setup for professional rendering jobs.

"Quadro RTX marks the launch of a new era for the global computer graphics industry," said Bob Pette, vice president of professional visualization at Nvidia. "Users can now enjoy powerful capabilities that weren't expected to be available for at least five more years.

"Designers and artists can interact in real time with their complex designs and visual effects in photo-realistic detail. And film studios and production houses can now realize increased throughput with their rendering workloads leading to significant time and cost savings."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.