Nvidia has consistently highlighted ray tracing as the big advancement to its Turing architecture that comes in the RTX graphics cards. (At least where gamers are concerned; the company's also wooing developers working on artificial intelligence and the like.) Now UL Benchmarks has released a new 3DMark Ray Tracing Tech Demo to clearly demonstrate what ray tracing is capable of on Nvidia's latest-and-greatest products. The benchmark will eventually come as an update to the 3DMark benchmark.
Note that UL Benchmarks is positioning this as a tech demo, for now: it's not supposed to be used to benchmark the ray tracing capabilities of RTX graphics cards. The demo is based on an actual benchmark the company's working on, however, that's expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 2018. UL Benchmarks will presumably use feedback on the demo and its own testing as it figures out how to quantify ray tracing performance.
UL Benchmarks said the benchmark has been in the works since it demonstrated the DirectX Ray Tracing API with Microsoft. The company said it's "being developed with input from our Benchmark Development Program partners including AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and other leading technology companies" and that it's "working especially closely with Microsoft to create a first-class implementation of the DirectX Ray Tracing API."
Having a ray tracing benchmark within 3DMark should make it easier to explain the effect the feature has on performance. We'll also get a taste of that via games that support ray tracing, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V, but having a specific benchmark will also prove useful. (The effect on performance is likely to vary between games; better to have a look at ray tracing specifically via tools like this.)
UL benchmarks said the 3DMark Ray Tracing Tech Demo is currently available to select members of the press--including Tom's Hardware--and we've been asked not to publicly share a link to download the demo. We'll see what we can do to show you more about what exactly the demo contains, and when it will be added to the 3DMark benchmark, ahead of the official benchmark's release sometime later this year.