Nvidia updates VRWorks SDK with Pascal-powered features

— 11:12 AM on May 9, 2016

The big news from Nvidia's Dreamhack event on Friday was the announcement of the company’s Geforce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards. We also got news of some up-and-coming VR features baked into the new Pascal GPU, though. Nvidia is also updating its VRWorks SDK with a  couple of new features that are made possible by the new architecture. 

The first of these features is Lens Matched Shading, an evolution of the Multi-Res Shading supported by Nvidia’s current-generation Maxwell GPUs. Multi-Res Shading allows Maxwell GPUs to render different regions of VR scenes at different resolutions to allow the GPU to spend its rendering resources more efficiently.

Details are scant on how Lens-Matched Shading improves on this technique, but Nvidia says the new method renders "more natively to the unique dimensions of VR display output." As a result, this method "avoids rendering many pixels that would otherewise be discarded before the image is output to the VR headset."

The other big new feature for Pascal’s VRWorks update is Single Pass Stereo. This feature allows the graphics card to perform a single geometry pass for both eyes in VR applications, reducing the load on the GPU. Nvidia says this API should be particularly helpful in high-tessellation scenes that require a lot of geometry processing. The company claims Single Pass Stereo can double geometry and tesselation performance in VR environments.

Both Lens Matched Shading and Single Pass Stereo are enabled by Pascal's Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology, which allows the GPU to efficiently render a scene from different viewports simultaneously. According to Anandtech, the Pascal GPU in the GTX 1080 can create as many as 16 different viewports for this purpose.

To demonstrate these new features, as well as the VR implementations of Nvidia’s HairWorks, Flow, VRWorks Audio, PhysX, and Flex APIs, Nvidia has announced a set of carnival-themed VR mini-games called Nvidia VR Funhouse. The company didn't say when that demo would be available.

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