Nvidia’s New Software Technologies
Before the hardware, Nvidia's Montreal 2013 press event [[NEWS: Nvidia: GTX 780 Ti, G-Sync, GameStream and ShadowPlay]] featured a lot of eye candy from new rendering and physics techniques. While more graphically intense games require more details to be put in by developers, the tools at their disposal have become more powerful and easier to use. Nvidia has previously demonstrated their Face rendering technology and now they are showing some global illumination and fire rendering methods.
The GI Works (above) demo showcased the global illumination giving a 3D scene a much better look. The reflections from light sources, indirect lightning and ambient occlusion allowed it to look good when lit by few lamp-type lights without any pre-baked lightning. Whilst the Flame Works (below) demo showcased a nice looking volumetric particle fire. While it does not look as good as carefully pre-rendered fire sprites, it does not break immersion when viewed from the side and can interact with other objects. Demos were running on GTX Titan, so we will likely have to wait some years for them to become feasible in games.
On the physics effect side, Nvidia has introduced a newer version of their PhysX middleware. The new version is called FLEX: Unified GPU PhysX allows much higher level of parallelisation, allowing the calculation of more complex scenes without slowdowns. Nvidia showcased it (bottom) with various scenes containing liquids, soft bodies, breakable bodies and cloth interacting together at the same time. The FLEX version should reach developers next year. There is some good news for PhysX on CPUs as well. PC version of Unreal Engine 4 will include PhysX 3.0 by default. While there are clearly some issues with CPU PhysX performance, a comment from Nvidia's AndyBNW is a reason for optimism, as PhysX 3.x will have good multicore CPU support. If Nvidia has also written it with the features of modern CPUs in mind, that should allow running much more impressive PhysX effects via CPU in newer games.