Nvidia has unveiled its new Adaptive Shading technology, a new feature enabled specifically for its GeForce RTX 20 series graphics cards. While the innovation was briefly touched on during the GeForce RTX reveal in September, Adaptive Shading’s capabilities remained largely a mystery to us.

Well, Nvidia Adaptive Shading (NAS) is an advanced shading technique that provides developers with an additional means to improve performance, and it’s making its debut today in a new patch for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

While there’s obviously a ton of complexities going on behind the scenes, the end result is actually fairly simple to parse. NAS analyses factors such as colour coherence and spatial movement within each frame to learn what areas remain the same from frame to frame. Rather than totally re-render those same pixels, the shading rate can then be lowered for successive frames and that performance can be diverted elsewhere. It’ll be useful for just about anything that’s largely static in a scene, such as the in-car dashboard in a racing game.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the first such game to support Nvidia Adaptive Shading in a new patch. You can see in the image below how the Adaptive Shading works. In the scene, the pixels are colour coded to demonstrate their rendering priority. The static details on the panels are basically untouched, while the red areas are being frequently re-rendered. The blue areas are being re-rendered infrequently while the green pixels are frequently updated.

Nvidia has also provided benchmarks of the NAS future, although they're basically useless as a point of comparison. Nvidia has pitted the GTX 1070 against the RTX 2070, and the GTX 1080 vs the RTX 2080, etc, rather than the same GPUs against one another to compare performance before and after enabling NAS.

Still, here are the benchmarks if you can extract some use out of them:

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus RTX NAS Update Patch Notes

  • Added support for NVIDIA Adaptive Shading on NVIDIA RTX series GPUs. (Improves frame rate by dynamically adjusting the shading resolution in different areas of the screen, without affecting fidelity).
  • Ensured that, on multiple GPU systems, the discrete GPU is preferred over an integrated GPU.

Players can now choose to ignore/suppress warnings when the selected video settings exceed the amount of dedicated VRAM available on the GPU
Fixes for skinning issues on GTX 970

What are your thoughts on this neat little advancement then? Another decent reason to pick up an RTX GPU, or do you expect it to only have a minor impact on performance? Let us know!