NVIDIA RTX / Ray-Tracing Support For Vulkan Coming Soon

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 22 August 2018 at 03:48 AM EDT. 1 Comment
Given Monday's press conference by NVIDIA where they launched the RTX 20 series and much of the two-hour-long event was focused on ray-tracing for games, you may be wondering about the state of Linux affairs...

While the GeForce RTX 20 series should work fine with NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver come 20 September, NVIDIA's RTX ray-tracing technology is still largely tied to Windows and Direct3D 12. But they are working on bringing support for RTX to Vulkan API and that frees it up to be supported on Linux.

As covered back in May, NVIDIA is working on adding RTX to Vulkan as ray-tracing extensions for this cross-platform, industry standard API. NVIDIA is offering their ray-tracing API design to The Khronos Group for incorporating it into core Vulkan, but for now the design is still a work-in-progress and the initial public implementation will almost surely be the vendor-prefixed VK_NV_raytracing extension.

If you would like to see what NVIDIA is working on with ray-tracing support for Vulkan, this PDF slide deck back from their GTC 2018 conference remains very relevant and quite technical and interesting.

It's now said that NVIDIA will be releasing their initial Vulkan ray-tracing bits "soon."

But when we see this ray-tracing support available in a Linux native game is another story. NVIDIA has been working with the likes of Unity and Epic Games on RTX support in their engines, but the most interesting Linux native games come ported via Feral Interactive. So from there it will likely be a matter of how close the RTX interfaces are between D3D12 and Vulkan to see whether that functionality would get ported to Linux. But then again, with Tuesday's announcement of Wine-powered Steam Play support for Windows games on Linux it may be more of a question of how long until Wine can properly deal with RTX and map it to the Vulkan ray-tracing extensions.

For those curious, below are some of the NVIDIA RTX demos this week for Gamescom:

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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