NVidia GPUs and 5G Cellular networks | NINJAR Blog

Digital Reality, Cloud GPUs and 5G Cellular Networks


Recently Nvidia announced a new series of GPU running the Turing architecture. This is the most exciting GPU architecture as it brings new technology for running real-time ray tracing and advanced artificial intelligence into consumer PCs. The last ucd pdate from Nvidia on this scale was 2 years ago — and that is a long time in GPU time.

The biggest update in the cards are the RT cores — specialist hardware chips that allows lifelike renders by accurately simulating the movement of light in a virtual scene.

Raytracing — The “holy grail” of real time graphics

To illustrate how this works — imagine you had a classic art scene containing a bowl of fruit lit by a candle.

For a computer to recreate this classic art image it starts with the pixels on the screen, and for each one it traces lines out towards the fruit to see which rays bounce off the fruit and hit the candle. It can then then set the colour of each pixel on the screen which we see as a complete image. As the rays trace the scene, any individual ray might reflect from one fruit to another (causing reflections), or be blocked by the fruit bowl (causing shadows), or pass through transparent or semi-transparent layers like the fruit peel (causing refractions and sub surface scattering). All of these interactions are combined to produce the final color of the pixel on the screen. For it to simulate how these rays of light actually work is very computationally expensive, as you need an ungodly amount of light rays to fill the resolution of a modern screen with an accurate representation of the scene.

The new Nvidia cards can trace the path of 10 Gigarays a second. That’s enough to paint complex scenes beautifully, in real time, like this demo for Porsche:

This way of rendering simulates reality and is common for film production, but until recently has not been popular in real time experiences. Most games and virtual reality apps use faster approximations and optimised shortcuts to display a 3D scene — polygonal and texture based limitations that were needed for frame rates, but at the expense of quality.

With Nvidia’s new RTX technology we can expect far more realistic shadows, reflections, surfaces and lighting in computer generated scenes. And because it’s realtime and supported by the Unreal Engine we can expect more high quality, realistic content appearing.

The new GPU cards also feature VR-Link — a simpler standard based on USB-C for powering and communicating with VR headsets with super low latency.


The production process is not fundamentally changed by this move to ray tracing, and it might become easier to reach higher levels of quality via ray tracing rather than the current time consuming way of shader programming and deferred rendering

Another advantage of the latest Nvidia GPUs is their custom A.I. focused chipset called the NGX. This onboard technology stack allows developers to run trained neural nets much faster than on CPU and previous GPU cores. These neural nets could be used for image processing and at Ninjar.com we are interested in how the NGX can be used for Computer Vision, Image Recognition and driving believable Mixed Reality Avatars.

As we are seeing the mobile camera being used ubiquitously in daily life we expect it to become an important component in the paradigm of Mixed Reality. The camera is what will bring Mixed Reality into the real world and these intelligent cameras are a key to the M.R. strategy we mentioned in a previous articles:

AI and Mixed Reality

Virtual Avatars

With this update, NVIDIA has produced a fantastic piece of hardware for Mixed Reality. By linking the card to a camera — through a mobile phone camera today, and tomorrow via wearable headsets and cameras — we can build an A.I. system that can be trained to recognise the content and context of a scene and augment it with photo realistic objects.

For example maybe the user is looking at a ping-pong table through her HMD and streaming the video to a nearby PC. The NVIDIA card in the machine can use computer vision to identify the table and then the realtime ray-tracing system can kick in to produce a lifelike opponent for an instant game of table tennis:

A bit like this maybe, but with photo realistic graphics.

Graphics will only get better, AI will only get smarter. But is in unclear if the technology will get smaller and cheaper. There is a thermal and hence power limit on mobile processing though and it will never catch up to this level of GPU power.

This leaves us with divisions of market sizes and graphical quality. On one side you have Magic Leap and Oculus releasing stand alone head mounted displays with mobile phone quality graphics, and on the other side you have Nvidia’s latest technology tied to desktop PC’s and with VirtuaLink powered headsets. Tying Mixed Reality to a single location considered poor form- as Mixed Reality is inherently spacial. It begs the question: How can we use the power of Desktop PC’s along with freedom promised by Mixed Reality?

5G and Cloud GPUs

To stream the video from the user’s camera to a remote GPU for processing not only requires a lot of bandwidth, but it also requires the video to be sent fast. Any lag between the user’s movements, the updates of the camera and any A.R. placed in the world causes a jittery sensation in the experience and instantly the immersion is broken. Rendering 3D content like games and vehicles is already happening, Playstation Now allows users to play games for Sony’s console remotely and Nvidia has a service called GeForce now which allows you to play PC games from the cloud. A car visualisation company called Zerolight has sidestepped the processing power of local devices by rendering Car Configurators in the cloud and broadcasting the live video of virtual renders back to the user

So the technology is proven, but until now it was considered only fast enough for Gaming, but not fast enough for Mixed Reality. This is where the promise of the 5G cell phone networks come in. The new network is estimated to 10x faster at sending signals to remote GPUs and back.

This might put it in a range which is acceptable for offloading the understanding of the user’s scene and the rendering of digital characters to the cloud. Pose estimation and location compensation can still be processed on the local device to help lock the digital world to the real. But maybe the future of Mixed Reality will see a blend of computation running locally and remote.

The near instant response of 5G broadcasts (as low as 1ms), and the increased bandwidth will also open the doors for teleportation holograms — ie it should be possible for multiple users to interact in real time with computer generated avatars — whether they are in the same place or not. The increased bandwidth of 5G could also accommodate 360 video at retina resolution and 3D Light Field movies.

Mixing Reality with Raycasting GPUs, Cloud GPUs and 5G Cellular Networks All these technologies are coming together to allow users to actually experience Mixed Reality in the real world .

For example a user can walk around a city and look through a mobile phone or headset and it’s 5G module can stream the video to an NVIDIA card in the cloud. Mixed Reality can be generated on the fly with Nvidia’s NGX AI recognising objects in the stream and the RTC photo-real ray tracing engine augmenting the scene and rendering it back to the 5G transmission.

This allows objects in the real-world, for example all the cars driving down a street, to be identified in real time and replaced by photo real, ray traced Porches.

This is how Mixed Reality will look in the very near future.

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For companies looking to get into VR/AR/MR our Virtual Reality services offer guidance on how these technologies can enhance and support your brand strategy.

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