At the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Nvidia revealed that it released version 3.1 of the GameWorks software development kit. The latest edition of the SDK introduces some new light and shadow rendering techniques, as well as a pair of new PhysX extensions.
The three new rendering techniques include Nvidia Volumetric Lighting, Nvidia Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows (HTFS) and Nvidia Voxel Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO).
Nvidia said that Nvidia Volumetric Lighting was first used last year in Fallout 4. It is used to “simulate how light behaves as it scatters through the air and atmosphere.” Nvidia HTFS, which was first used in Tom Clancy’s The Division, helps transition shadows from hard to soft as they get further from the object that created them. Nvidia VXAO, which debuted in Rise of the Tomb Raider with a new patch last week, "calculates shadows in world-space using all scene geometry," rather than typical Ambient Occlusion techniques that only calculate screen space.
The new PhysX extensions found in GameWorks SDK 3.1 include Nvidia PhysX -GRB, which Nvidia said improves performance by factor of six in “moderate to heavy simulation loads” compared to the company’s previous rigid body dynamics SDK implementations. There's also Nvidia Flow, which is an algorithm for fluid dynamics that simulates combustible fluids.
Nvidia said that the GameWorks 3.1 SDK is available worldwide as of today. The company has also released the source code for Nvidia Volumetric Lighting and the Nvidia FaceWorks demo onto GitHub. Nvidia said that the HairWorks, HBAO+ and WaveWorks source code will be released in the near future.