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AMD lays out plans for cloud-based ray-traced rendering for Navi GPUs
By Neil Soutter on June 13th, 2019 at 01:17pm - original article from game-debate

Tucked in among AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 series reveal were a few interesting tidbits on AMD’s plans to support real-time ray tracing. And, well, its aims sound less than desirable.

While Nvidia is busy making DXR-powered ray-tracing one of the chief selling points of its GeForce RTX graphics cards, AMD is taking a slightly different approach.

On the hardware side, we know the newly announced Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT won’t support ray tracing natively. Confusingly though, AMD’s new RDNA GPU architecture does support ray tracing effects, while both Sony and Microsoft have claimed their upcoming next-gen consoles will support ray tracing. The language they’ve used has been incredibly fluffy though, and it could even just be ray-traced audio we’re talking about here, rather than the intense demands of lighting.

Sticking to AMD’s PC hardware for a moment, current-gen RDNA supports Radeon Rays for Developers and ProRender for Creators. Once next-gen RDNA lands we can expect to see select ray-traced lighting effects for gaming purposes. This, we have to assume, is the generation of Radeon RX graphics cards coming after the RX 5700 series.

On top of this, AMD plans to offer full scene ray tracing across its GPU families. However, there’s a big catch. Team Red will be utilising cloud-based computing tech to deliver its full scene ray tracing. It sounds a bit of an oddity to us to be selling these mightily expensive graphics cards and then offloading the tough work to the cloud rather than rendering it locally. At that point, you’re halfway to just using Google Stadia and streaming a game in its entirety.

AMD ray tracing cloud based RDNA

It’s an odd one alright, and it seems we can expect AMD’s rollout for ray tracing to be slow, stagged, and a bit haphazard. It will get there eventually, but perhaps without the same level of aggression that Nvidia is showing.

What are your thoughts on this one then, is cloud-based rendering an acceptable middle ground? Is AMD too far behind the curve in terms of ray-tracing? Let us know!