Nvidia has announced the first fruits of its partnership with Unity on embedding VRWorks technologies into the company's game engine, with the latest Unity Engine beta coming with four plugins compatible with Pascal-based graphics cards.

Designed to improve the performance and quality of virtual reality titles running on Nvidia hardware, VRWorks stands in competition to AMD's LiquidVR. Both have the same core drawback, however: They're only any good when they're supported by a given game engine. Unity Engine 2017.1.0 Beta 2, Nvidia has announced, is a step forward in bringing VRWorks technologies to the masses, or at least the tiny subset of the masses who have invested in the current generation of PC-driven virtual reality headsets and have a Pascal-based graphics card or two in their systems.

The latest Unity Engine release, Nvidia has explained, comes with support for four core VRWorks technologies via official plugins available on the Unity Asset Store. The first is key for anyone running a multi-GPU setup: VR SLI, as the name implies, allows for developers to boost performance on multiple-GPU setups by assigning multiple GPUs to a specific eye - an improvement on the current system, which allows only a single GPU per eye for an upper limit of two.

The second plugin is the only rendering-related feature to include support for Maxwell graphics processors: Multi-resolution shading uses the multi-projection capabilities of the Maxwell or higher graphics architectures to render areas of the image at resolutions appropriate for the pixel density of the display post-warping and does so in a single pass as a means of significantly boosting performance over the previous multi-pass method.

Lens-matched shading, however, requires a Pascal GPU to operate. Assuming you have a compatible GPU, Nvidia promises improvements over the Maxwell-compatible multi-resolution shading through rendering to a surface that approximates the lens-corrected final output image, meaning that pixels to be discarded during the warping process can be left out of the rendering process altogether - another boost to performance.

Finally, the single-pass stereo plugin is again Pascal-specific and promises either a doubling of geometry complexity with no performance loss or an increase in performance for the same geometry complexity. The technology works, Nvidia has explained, by allowing the GPU to draw the geometry once then project both right-and left-eye views, effectively halving the workload.

All plugins are available now from the Nvidia developer site, but it will be some time before developers begin using them in shipping titles.


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