NVIDIA Demonstrates GeForce RTX Turing GPU Mesh Shading With Impressive Asteroids Demo

turing mesh shading
We already know that NVIDIA's GeForce RTX family of gaming GPUs are beastly performers, and they are also the first-generation of gaming cards that can handle real-time ray tracing. But that's not all that NVIDIA has up its sleeve with respect to its new Turing GPUs. The company is also touting its mesh shaders, which help to enhance image quality while at the same time maintaining high levels of overall performance.

Mesh shading is a programmable geometric shading pipeline that uses what NVIDIA calls cooperative thread groups to create compact meshes on-chip. The main purpose of mesh shading is to offload some heavy computational lifting from the CPU in order to leverage the immense processing capabilities of the parallel computing-intensive GPU.

To showcase how mesh shading works, NVIDIA has created the Asteroids demo, which presents a scene with a space ship navigating through an asteroid field. In the demo, there are 350,000 asteroids that have been generated, each comprised of up to 10 million triangles. In total, there are 3.5 trillion triangles that must be processed. 

To further lessen the amount of computing resources needed, primitives that will never been seen are removed from the equation; this only leaves the visible pixels that must be shaded. From there, NVIDIA is using a level of detail (LOD) method to increase the number of triangles (and hence, detail) depending on how far away an asteroid is from the ship. The LOD scale goes from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest (NVIDIA reckons around 20 triangles for LOD 0 and in excess of 6 million for LOD 10).

nvidia lod

"By combining together efficient GPU culling and LOD techniques, we decrease the number of triangles drawn by several orders of magnitude, retaining only those necessary to maintain a very high level of image fidelity," writes NVIDIA's Manuel Kraemer. "The real-time drawn triangle counters can be seen in the lower corner of the screen. Mesh shaders make it possible to implement extremely efficient solutions that can be targeted specifically to the content being rendered."

NVIDIA claims that its mesh shading approach greatly improves rendering efficiency and it expects developers to implement it to increase performance and visual fidelity in their games going forward.

If you'd like to try out the Asteroids demo, you can download it here. Of course, you'll need a Turing-based GPU (Quadro RTX, GeForce RTX, or Titan RTX) to see it in action.