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Nvidia announces GameWorks VR: Smarter graphics for virtual reality

As the latest virtual reality hardware gets set for full consumer launch, Nvidia gives developers new tools to make their VR look better than ever.

GameWorks VR aims to make virtual reality graphics faster and smoother Cheryl Holloway

TAIPEI -- Nvidia has revealed a new set of tools for game developers working with virtual reality under the GameWorks VR label. The set of programming tools and graphics engine updates aims to ensure best possible performance for computers that deliver virtual reality experiences.

From Oculus Rift to Valve's HTC Vive, virtual reality has spent the last few years just outside of reach for the regular consumer market. But that's about to change. Recently, Oculus announced it is set to launch to the public in 2016. Hundreds of game developers are working to support virtual reality options in their work, so new tools from Nvidia, the world's leading graphics hardware company, is another step towards ensuring virtual reality will not disappoint this time around.

Primarily, the new GameWorks VR tools aim to help developers ensure that a computer only needs to render the graphics as they will be delivered to a set of VR goggles. Graphics are warped for use in virtual reality to correctly account for the special optical lenses used to create a wide field of view for the user.

Until now, graphics engines have typically rendered VR images as though they were being delivered to a normal screen, and then the warp effect is applied. This creates wasted effort as many parts of an image are rendered that will not actually be seen. GameWorks VR aims to ensure only the parts required for the final virtual reality output will be rendered in the first place.

Ultimately, by removing any unnecessary elements during the graphics process Nvidia is aiming to help developers make their VR look as smooth as possible. Nothing ruins the immersion of virtual reality faster than slow or stuttery graphics.

Nvidia is the dominant player in graphics processing hardware, controlling around 70 percent of the current market for desktop and laptop PCs. Its key rival, AMD, is well behind in PCs but powers the graphics systems across Microsoft's Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii.