AMD’s Drivers Have Apparently Had Ray Tracing Code Since July

 It appears that AMD has had ray tracing code in its drivers since the Adrenalin Edition 19.7.2 driver that debuted in July. But while the code has been there, it hasn’t been activated. 

It’s no surprise that AMD is working on ray tracing. Nvidia has its own line of RTX graphics cards with dedicated hardware-level ray tracing and also activated DirectX ray tracing on its Pascal graphics cards. And this week, rumors started swirling that the upcoming Intel Xe graphics cards will have ray tracing. The same goes for AMD, specifically regarding the upcoming PlayStation 5 (PS5). No, this isn’t the first AMD ray tracing rumor. 

Spotted by PCGamesN, the ray tracing code comes in the form of unfinished references to Microsoft’s DirectX ray tracing libraries, and some .dll files appeared to refer to AMDTraceRay code.

(Image credit: PCGamesN)


So if AMD drivers already have ray tracing code, when will see AMD graphics cards offer ray tracing? That’s hard to say. 

Given that Nvidia has had its RTX products on the market for over a year, it’d make sense for AMD to incorporate it into their upcoming GPUs in order to be competitive. We doubt it will be introduced with the RX 5800 graphics cards, but it’s also been rumored next-generation AMD GPUs with the new RDNA 2.0 architecture will arrive in 2020. Given that the AMD Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT only hit the market in July, we don’t expect to see RDNA 2.0-based cards until the end of 2020. Therefore, it may take a while before we see AMD’s hardware-level ray tracing implementation.

We can, however, hope that AMD will enable DirectX ray tracing on its existing GPUs. But that’s doubtful too, since we’ve found that ray tracing on graphics cards without hardware-level support comes with drawbacks, like less smooth framerates.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.