Innovation is hard work. Doing work that has already been done elsewhere can be satisfying, but also annoying - no-one wants to reinvent the wheel every time. In the realm of 3D graphics, we are not limited to creating our wares from scratch - toolsets such as NVIDIA GameWorks are provided to developers allowing them to include advanced graphics rendering and physical simulation features into their products. The latest version, NVIDIA GameWorks 3.1, is being released this week.

NVIDIA GameWorks SDK 3.1 introduces three new graphics technologies involving shadows and lighting. NVIDIA Volumetric Lighting involves simulating how light behaves as it scatters through the air, and was showcased in Fallout 4. Moving over to shadows, we will see NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (HFTS) which involves rendering shadows that start as hard shadows nearer the casting object and transition to soft shadows further away. Lastly, in the new graphics features, we see NVIDIA Voxel Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO), which NVIDIA dubs as the highest quality ambient occlusion algorithm. What makes this version better than previous techniques is the ability to calculate shadows with all geometry in world space, versus older screen space techniques that can only cast shadows for geometry visible to the camera.

Adding to the roster of PhysX features is NVIDIA PhysX-GRB, which is a new implementation of NVIDIA’s PhysX rigid body dynamics SDK. This new implementation provides a hybrid CPU/GPU pipeline that NVIDIA claims can improve performance by a factor of up to 6X for moderate to heavy simulation loads, especially for those that are large on compute shader register resources. NVIDIA Flow is the other update to PhysX which will introduce the ability to simulate and render combustible fluids such as fire and smoke, and this time simulation will not be confined to a bounding box. This should lead to much more flexibility and usefulness in games and other software in the future.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • close - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    Now with even more AMD performance hindering features.
  • madwolfa - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    Nobody is forcing you to use any of the GameWorks features on your AMD card.
  • close - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    I don't think you understand what GameWorks is and how it works ;).
  • jasonelmore - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    Traditionally gameworks features can be disabled in the options menu. See Batman, Syndicate, Tomb Raider, and Witcher 3. You will just have to do without those effects tho.

    3 out of 4 people use nvidia according to steam survey's, so i can see why developers use them.
  • madwolfa - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    Correct. And, for what it's worth, even I having a GTX 980, almost always turn the GW effects off.
  • close - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    So 25% of buyers will pay the same price but will not be able to use the features because Nvidia arbitrarily decided there should be so many hurdles around getting those features to work that no amount of optimization will get around, right?
    Mind you, this is less about an intrinsic limitation of AMD hardware and more about an arbitrary limitation of the SDK. And while I get Nvidia is willing to go as far as it can with unfair practices knowing the reward is much higher than the risk (see Intel's identical strategy in the past) It sounds at least ignorant to support this as a customer regardless of what card you buy today.

    When MS said Win10 will only be supported on specific hardware (although they support the sibling kernel of WS 2016) everybody jumped to protest. But now it's just "don't use it then". Just to show you how educated the average internet user is.

    Ask any developer who ever used GW and you'll get the same answer ;). When powerful hardware gets so crippled you start to get why Nvidia is so closed and secretive.
    I have no problem with a GPU being too weak to run a certain feature. I do however have a problem with a GPU being too "not Nvidia" to run it. I had to buy a 980 to run games with full features although my AMD card should have been able. This means Nvidia's "optimizations" artificially cost me money.

    And yes, a certain developer's internal surveys showed that most users actually disable much of the GW stuff because some wavy white hair isn't wort it. The main purpose is to slam AMD because actually making hardware that is that much better is a lot harder. So you make the competion artificially look worse.
  • madwolfa - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    How I see it is that Nvidia is trying to go extra mile for the games to look slightly better with their hardware. It's not like the games automatically look like crap without those features. They are a bonus for Nvidia card owners and you're free to turn them off in most cases, whether you own Nvidia card or not. I don't understand how it hinders AMD in any way.
  • xthetenth - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    The "features" get turned on in reviews.
  • Sttm - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    Call anyone uneducated that disagrees with him. Yet this guy is such an ignorant AMD fanboy. You wouldn't have any of these features to even turn on if not for Nvidia. They are providing to developers the Gameworks options, and if they didn't the developers wouldn't have bothered to create their own version of them. Who in their right mind thinks Bethesda would have come up with volumetric lighting for Fallout 4 on PC? That they would have dedicated engineers to create a feature only PCs are powerful enough to run.

    Gameworks is a positive to AMD owners, some of the effects you will be able to run, some you wont, but without it, you'd have none, and if you weren't such an ignorant fanboy you would see that.
  • close - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    I don't think we're on the same page here. When I called people uneducated it was because the enormous difference in reactions when another software company artificially restricted the use of their software to specific hardware versus the reaction now (MS offering support for W10 only on new gen CPUs). And I was pretty clear on that.
    But it seems you're here to call me a fanboy and then continue to sing an ode to Nvidia and you don't even try to be close to the truth. This while the soon to be most widely used API is based on AMD innovation.

    Anyway, petty insults aside, when you take roughly equally powerful hardware and then you "optimize" a bit until some features basically cripple the competition but you see no foul play that's you not wanting to see it. I don't expect to run 4K with a Radeon 5000 series. But when all the headline features of GW fail to run properly even on high end AMD hardware then this was one big purpose for their "optimization".

    When AMD innovates everybody gets to enjoy it but when Nvidia innovates you have to buy their cards to use it. Now can I call you uneducated for failing to see this? I don't have to be a fanboy to see when someone doesn't play ball. And it doesn' have to be related to what I own or use. And if a feature doesn't work because the HW is just too weak I can understand. When it doesn't work on certain hardware by your design it's just low regardless of what you or I like.

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