AMD’s CEO has clarified that ray tracing is indeed important to the graphics card maker, and that there’s already a GPU which uses the tech in development.
Lisa Su made the comments in a roundtable session with PC World, in which she noted that the key to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 2080 is that it boasts a lot of features and that ray tracing is one of its “important” capabilities.
She then reiterated that it was important to AMD, stating: “I think ray tracing is important technology; it’s something that we’re working on as well, from both a hardware/software standpoint.”
But then she fired her shots at Nvidia, adding that “technology for technology’s sake is okay”, but that “technology done together with partners, and really getting the development community fully engaged, I think is really important.”
She observed: “So you’re going to see a lot more gaming discussions from us as we go through this year, and into the future, and that’s kind of how we do it. We view it as a broad ecosystem, we don’t focus on just the one technology.”
In other words, this is underlying AMD’s previous line which is that it’s too early to be pushing with ray tracing just yet, and that Nvidia has gone ahead with it for Turing GPUs just for the sake of saying it has got the technology, as opposed to delivering any real benefits to gamers.
Of course, support for ray tracing is limited right now, and as we’ve seen, turning on these fancy lighting effects can seriously hamper frame rates – although the developers of Battlefield V, for instance, have worked hard to optimize the tech along with Nvidia.
AMD’s argument is that it would rather focus on making its GPUs better performing across the entire gamut of games, rather than those with support for a specific feature.
This might give you some perspective for Nvidia’s chief executive Jensen Huang’s comments last week concerning AMD’s freshly-unveiled Radeon VII graphics card, which the CEO called “underwhelming” while specifically noting that it had no ray tracing capability (or AI chops).
Huang observed: “It’s 7nm with HBM memory that barely keeps up with a 2080. And if we turn on DLSS we’ll crush it. And if we turn on ray tracing we’ll crush it.”
AMD’s CEO replied quietly: “What I would say is that we’re very excited about Radeon VII, and I would probably suggest that he [Huang] hasn’t seen it yet.”
So yes, this is a typical PR pot-shot battle, with flak being fired between both sides. But what this latest development does show is that AMD isn’t underplaying the importance of ray tracing, and while any kind of rough timeframe for a GPU with the tech on-board has still not been mentioned, Lisa Su clearly sees this as an important part of the puzzle in the future.
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