Radeon graphics cards from AMD with DX12 feature raytracing via Microsoft’s DXR, as the company confirmed. However, the GPU power may not be sufficient.
Raytracing is currently only possible for one manufacturer
With the Turing generation, Nvidia has brought one technology in particular to the fore. Built-in tensor and RT cores enable real-time raytracing in games. Real-time raytracing allows even more realistic images and, for example, realistic reflections. The technology differs greatly from the otherwise used raster rendering and requires significantly more hardware performance, which Nvidia provides, among other things, through the tensor and RT cores.
This excludes the second major manufacturer in the GPU sector. AMD does not (yet) have any graphics cards in its program that are equipped with raytracing hardware and is therefore at a disadvantage. Currently the feature is still of questionable use, but in the future raytracing could definitely play a big role. According to AMD’s own statements, however, the technology will only be supported by the manufacturer if even the smallest graphics cards can handle it. Raytracing is therefore not currently on the company’s agenda. But as AMD itself has confirmed, raytracing is already possible via a fallback function of Microsoft’s DXR.
Radeon graphics cards support raytracing via Microsoft DXR
Although there is still a lack of raytracing games at the moment, some games will be launched in the future. Fortunately, they all use the same interface, DXR from Microsoft. According to AMD, Radeon graphics cards that support at least DX12 should theoretically be compatible with raytracing through a DXR fallback layer. However, the function is not integrated in the driver and therefore cannot be used. The only graphics card that currently masters fallback layer raytracing is the Titan V from Nvidia. It doesn’t have RT cores, but it does have tensor cores and is therefore capable of remarkable raytracing performance in Battlefield V.
Performance of Radeon GPUs too low
So why doesn’t AMD just enable raytracing in the drivers? The problem might be the performance. While the Turing graphics cards have their own cores for raytracing built in, such cores are not found in the Radeon graphics cards. The calculation would therefore run via the shaders, which would significantly limit the performance of the graphics card. Therefore, it probably doesn’t even make sense to activate raytracing with a Radeon VII via this fallback layer, as the general gaming performance would suffer significantly.
With future generations of graphics cards, that’s of course a different matter. AMD has already confirmed its intention to support DXR directly in the future. However, it is doubtful that the upcoming Navi generation will already be able to feature raytracing.