Epic Reveals Jawdropping Star Wars Real-Time Ray Tracing Tech Demo in Unreal Engine 4

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 9:54 AM

Epic Games have been busy showing off the capabilities on Unreal Engine 4 during GDC this week, unveiling an absolutely jaw-dropping real-time ray Star Wars tech demo using Nvidia’s RTX technology. RTX provides photorealistic reflections, shadows, and ambient occlusion. And, well, you’ll really just have to see it for yourself.

I mean, wow. Aside from a few slightly wonky animations, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this video and the actual movies. For a brief moment, I wondered if this was some sort of prank and this was actually a clip from the latest Star Wars film. A reminder as well that this isn’t some pre-rendered junk, this is all happening in real-time and possible with Nvidia’s current hardware. The lighting really does feel like the missing link between games and damn near photorealism. I’m sure it would look considerably less realistic if these were people being rendered rather than Stormtrooper suits, but it feels like a churlish to suggest that when this is the future of what Star Wars game may look like.

So all of this is possible right now on today’s hardware, but it doesn’t come cheap. This particular demo from Epic is running on an Nvidia DGX Station with four Tesla V100 GPUs connected via NVLink. Each Tesla V100 graphics accelerator retails for $8,699 and the entire DGX Station costs $60,000. It’s capable of running this tech demo at 1080p resolution, 24 frames per second.

As you can probably tell, we’re a long way off from this level of quality becoming mainstream. Real-time ray tracing will actually filter into games quite soon, but they’re going to be nowhere near the graphical quality of what we’re seeing it. Still, if we were to assume a doubling of GPU performance every 18 months or so, it’s theoretically possible that a $1000 Titan GPU could be capable of this sort of thing within about 5 to 6 years. That’s pretty neat, although I don’t think folks in 2023 are going to be too keen on playing at 1080p resolution. Still, baby steps.

What do you think of the real-time ray tracing technology on offer then? What year do you think we'll be able to achieve this with our home setups? Let us know!

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09:05 Mar-29-2018

I love the code of silence around multiplayer cheaters
then the game develpoers and theri pubishers are wondering to why
the value of their product drop

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08:43 Mar-24-2018

Lootboxes. Now rendered with Raytracing

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07:28 Mar-23-2018

am i the only one to not find any thing special about this demo? i mean battlefront 2 looks similar to it

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09:10 Mar-23-2018

Uhh, yeah, I think you might be

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09:12 Mar-23-2018
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10:27 Mar-24-2018

holly **** !! now i see why 4 tesla are required to get 24fps on 1080p!

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06:30 Mar-23-2018

Imperial March elevator music ver

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02:30 Mar-23-2018

I actually don´t know if it is good or bad getting closer to photorealism in games, i mean, that´s what differientiate from the reality, i just can´t imagine killing people or animals in gta 7 like i don´t think it is a good idea to make realistic games.

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01:37 Mar-23-2018

Desperate Squidward Vocie FuTuReeeeeeeeeee

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23:35 Mar-22-2018

So a decade from now, this kind of quality visual will come to mid-range hardware. Games will look so realistic that we won't be able to tell if it's real-life not not. How exciting :D

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15:57 Mar-22-2018

That looks amazing!

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15:05 Mar-22-2018

Looks fantastic!

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13:52 Mar-22-2018

So question, if the raytracing in the demo requires 4 of those Tesla V100s which is 15 Tflops (60 in total) for a mere 24fps then does that necessarily mean we would need like 150 tflops for that tech to run at 60fps?

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12:47 Mar-22-2018

"You think she heard us?"


scene switches


"Yeah, I think she heard us."


Why did I find that so funny? XD

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10:45 Mar-22-2018

Was the floor on the starkiller base or from the first order ship that shiny?

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10:49 Mar-22-2018

I think they sent the cleaning bots in prior to rendering this.

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15:34 Mar-22-2018

While what you say is true, it's also just a new ship with a new crew, one of which actually likes the one in charge.
But seriously, now that I've seen ray tracing in video games, I hope that we will be able to see ourselves in the mirror with those reflections. As for truly inspiring, I'd love to see the gritty side of ray tracing. Too much reflective perfection is just a waste of design. How does it act in the jungle or rock formation? Ah, Metro: Exodus to the rescue!

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10:04 Mar-22-2018

My god this looks sooo good

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Can They Run... |

| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-2310 2.9GHz GeForce GT 1030 8GB
| 30FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz GeForce GT 1030 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 Radeon RX 570 Sapphire Pulse 4GB 8GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 Radeon RX 570 Sapphire Pulse 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Core i7-8700K 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2080 MSI Gaming X Trio 8GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Athlon 3000G 2-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 550 2GB 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i3-10100 4-Core 3.60GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-4710MQ 4-Core 2.5GHz GeForce GTX 960M 2GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen R5 PRO 1600 Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus Dual OC 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG STRIX Gaming Advanced 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG STRIX Gaming Advanced 6GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]