NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows Raise The Bar For Real-Time Shadowing. See Them In Action In Tom Clancy's The Division (2024)

By Andrew Burnes on April 05, 2016 | Featured Stories NVIDIA GameWorks

For several years ourPercentage Closer Soft Shadows(PCSS) shadow technique has delivered the best possible shadow map shadows inGrand Theft Auto V,Far Cry 4,Dying Light,Batman: Arkham Origins,Assassin's Creed Unity, andAssassin's Creed Syndicate. Now however there's a new, even-better technique, called NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows, henceforth referred to as "NVIDIA HFTS".

This technically-advanced, groundbreaking shadow technique leverages hardware features ofNVIDIA GeForce GTX 900 Series Maxwell graphics cardsto create realistic geometrically-accurate hard shadows, that smoothly transition to soft shadows in real time. These shadows substantially improve upon those generated by existing techniques, including NVIDIA PCSS, to deliver the highest-quality shadows seen to date in gaming, with near-perfect contact shadowing and vastly improved screen-wide shadowing.

To achieve this feat several technologies and techniques are utilized. The first and most important of these is Frustum Tracing, a form ofRay Tracingthat runs far faster, yet is still highly accurate. This is a direct result of NVIDIA HFTS's Frustum Tracing utilizingConservative Rasterization, a technology built intosecond generation GeForce GTX 900 Series, Maxwell-architecture GPUs.

With Conservative Rasterization errors and missed details from the faster Frustum Tracing process can be corrected, delivering a shadow that's close to the quality of one created by Ray Tracing, but at a fraction of the performance cost. By drastically reducing this cost the technique becomes suitable for real-time, graphically-advanced games, something that can't be said for traditional Ray Tracing, which currently renders at only a few frames per second in heavily optimized, small-scale tech demos.

From left to right: a regular shadow map, as seen in most games; a Frustum Traced shadow; and a Frustum Traced shadow with Conservative Rasterization applied.

After Frustum Tracing has created a near-perfect 'hard' shadow, the shadow needs to be softened to mimic reality, where a 'hard' shadow transitions to a 'soft' shadow as the distance from the shadow caster increases. For that we employ Variable Penumbra Soft Shadow Filters, much the same as the ones employed by ourPercentage Closer Soft Shadows(PCSS) technique, which has applied progressive softening to the shadow maps ofseveral games.

A look at how soft shadows are created with HFTS, and the final output as it would be rendered in a game.

Finally, we add low-cost Post-Process Anti-Aliasing to smooth the edges of the shadows.

NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows Raise The Bar For Real-Time Shadowing. See Them In Action In Tom Clancy's The Division (7)

Together these techniques form NVIDIA HFTS, the highest-quality shadow rendering technology seen to date. Shadow detachment, aliasing, and interference from overlapping blockers are all overcome, creating near-perfect geometrically accurate and precise shadows, which soften as the distance from the shadow caster increases. For further information about HFTS's technology, including technical detail about Frustum Tracing, please check outour GameWorks development article.

The first game to feature NVIDIA HFTS isTom Clancy's The Division, a record-breaking game with stunning graphics that are further enhanced with NVIDIA HFTS, as exemplified by the following interactive comparison.

Click to load.

Below, additional sets of interactive comparisons demonstrate the strength of NVIDIA HFTS in comparison to the other shadow options available inTom Clancy's The Division.

In our first set, the level of fidelity offered by NVIDIA HFTS is clearly seen, with each individual spoke of the bike wheel clearly rendered, as are the numerous overlapping shadows cast by the street lamp, bike stand, and bike.

Interactive Comparisons
NVIDIA HFTS vs. NVIDIA PCSS NVIDIA HFTS vs. High NVIDIA HFTS vs. Low
NVIDIA PCSS vs. High NVIDIA PCSS vs. Low High vs. Low

In our second set of comparisons NVIDIA HFTS's contact shadow improvements are exemplified, enabling accurate shadows on even the smallest details, such as the cash machine's lock and the security camera's lens.

Interactive Comparisons
NVIDIA HFTS vs. NVIDIA PCSS NVIDIA HFTS vs. High NVIDIA HFTS vs. Low
NVIDIA PCSS vs. High NVIDIA PCSS vs. Low High vs. Low

Below, a demonstration of natural shadow softening as the distance from the shadow caster increases.

Interactive Comparisons
NVIDIA HFTS vs. NVIDIA PCSS NVIDIA HFTS vs. High NVIDIA HFTS vs. Low
NVIDIA PCSS vs. High NVIDIA PCSS vs. Low High vs. Low

And finally, a look at how NVIDIA HFTS affects shadow softness and fidelity during gameplay.

Interactive Comparisons
NVIDIA HFTS vs. NVIDIA PCSS NVIDIA HFTS vs. High NVIDIA HFTS vs. Low
NVIDIA PCSS vs. High NVIDIA PCSS vs. Low High vs. Low

With these shadow rendering advancements the bar has once again been raised, just as it was when NVIDIA PCSS debuted. To see the effect for yourself equip your system with a GeForce GTX 900 Series, second generation Maxwell-architecture GPU, and snag yourself a copy ofTom Clancy's The Division.

And should you wish to learn more aboutTom Clancy's The Division's other technology, be sure to check out our comprehensiveTom Clancy's The Division Graphics & Performance Guide.

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NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows Raise The Bar For Real-Time Shadowing. See Them In Action In Tom Clancy's The Division (2024)

FAQs

What is nvidia hfts? ›

Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (or HFTS) is an NVIDIA developed tech from 2015, that creates pixel level shadows.

What is nvidia pcss dying light? ›

Nvidia PCSS is an algorithm that mimics the behavior of shadows in nature, progressively softening shadows as the distance from the casting object increases and reducing aliasing on the edges of the rendered shadow.

Why is Nvidia used in AI? ›

Once Nvidia realised that its accelerators were highly efficient at training AI models, it focused on optimising them for that market. Its chips have kept pace with ever more complex AI models: in the decade to 2023 Nvidia increased the speed of its computations 1,000-fold.

What is Nvidia Corporation on my computer? ›

It is a software and fabless company which designs and supplies graphics processing units (GPUs), application programming interfaces (APIs) for data science and high-performance computing, as well as system on a chip units (SoCs) for the mobile computing and automotive market.

What is Nvidia pcss shadow? ›

"PCSS" or "Percentage Closer Soft Shadows" is a shadow sampling algorithm invented by Nvidia in 2005 (Original Whitepaper). The intent is to simulate a more realistic falloff where the shadows get progressively softer the further the receiver is from the caster.

What is Nvidia adaptive shading? ›

NVIDIA Adaptive Shading (NAS), for example, uses motion vector data plus color variance data to determine what parts of the image need less detail.

Does Dying Light have RTX? ›

Altogether, the five ray tracing options deliver a massive boost to Dying Light 2 Stay Human's graphics, giving GeForce RTX gamers the ultimate experience.

What is PCSS and HFTs? ›

HFTS stands for Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows. It is a combination of Hybrid ray traced shadows and PCSS, so you will lose some fps since you are not replacing PCSS but adding to it. Hybrid Ray Traced Shadows uses ray tracing instead of shadow maps.

What does Nvidia on demand do? ›

NVIDIA On-Demand is the home for NVIDIA resources from GPU Technology Conferences (GTCs) and other leading industry events. The content includes NVIDIA keynotes, technical and industry sessions, demos, research posters, and more.

What is Nvidia's power saving GPU technology? ›

NVIDIA® power-saving GPU technology (NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology for notebooks) automatically turns the high-performance NVIDIA GPU on to accelerate programs or displays. The technology optimizes the balance between power savings and performance, and is available only with Windows 7 and later.

How does Nvidia make money from AI? ›

Key Data Points

Given that Nvidia relies on sales of chips that are being deployed in data centers for AI training and inference purposes, it can be easily concluded that this business segment can continue to be a major catalyst for the company.

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