If you’ve yet to see Epic Games’ amazing demo of ray tracing graphics technology using Star Wars: The Last Jedi characters, go ahead and watch below. Just know that, while these incredible visuals were rendered in real time, they cost at least $60,000 to make.
Epic Games detailed the technology behind its awesome demonstration (seen below) in a blog post (opens in new tab), name-dropping Nvidia and Disney’s Industrial Light and Magic xLAB as collaborators on the project, with Nvidia’s contribution being one of its $60,000 DGX Station computers (opens in new tab).
These high-end workstation computers are equipped with (opens in new tab) a whopping four Nvidia Tesla V100 graphics cards (with a total of 64GB of video memory), a 20-core Intel Xeon processor, several terabytes of storage and an insane 256GB of DDR4 memory – all drawing up to 1,500 watts of power.
Ray tracing: a bit more far flung of a future?
Ray tracing is a hyper-realistic, dynamic lighting technology that has long existed in the realm of computer-generated film-making, where visuals are rendered once and then become a simple video file. For this tech to finally be on the horizon for video games – all of which have to render their visuals in real-time as the game is played, all of the time – is incredibly exciting.
However, beyond the fact that this feature will be exclusive to Nvidia graphics cards on its Volta architecture and whatever comes after (all of which expected to be mighty pricey even for consumers), graphics of the level you see above will almost certainly not be possible with the consumer-grade, ray-tracing graphics cards that Nvidia releases this year.
It’s refreshing to see Epic be so transparent about the work and tech behind its amazing demonstration – seriously, that video looks like it’s ripped from the film.
But, it’s important to not only give the supporting cast credit where it’s due, but to intimate that the level of computing power required to generate these visuals simply isn’t within sight of the vast majority of PC gamers, namely when advertising shiny new technology to hopeful consumers.
And, at a $60,000 price point, this glorious display likely won’t be rendered on your home gaming PC for quite some time.
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