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Nvidia had been researching ray tracing for over a decade.

Peter_Brosdahl

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Erich Reimer over at Seeking Alpha had an interview recently with Senior VP of Content and Technology, Tony Tamasi. During it Tony explains that Nvidia had actually begun researching ray tracing over a decade ago but it wasn't until they advanced to RT cores they were really able to gain ground on it.
4950
"We did that by acquiring companies and investing heavily on architecture research in both software and hardware sides. We delivered things like OptiX to accelerate GPU rendering for the film industry, continued to invest, and then recently with the Turing architecture brought technology to roughly deliver an order of magnitude increase in real-time ray tracing performance, making that possible in games. We’ve been working at this for a decade and, you know, we just kept cranking away, investing in it, until we made that breakthrough. "

Credit to Alessio Palumbo over at WCCFT Tech for posting this. https://wccftech.com/nvidia-we-decided-to-tackle-the-challenge-ray-tracing-decade/

Here's a link to the actual sound cloud interview stream. https://soundcloud.com/user-182502062%2Fexecutive-interview-series-tony-tamasi-nvidia-svp-content-technology
I agree with anyone that this wasn't the smoothest roll out of new tech but I have to at least give Nvidia credit for busting it wide open. Love it or hate it, ray tracing is here now.
 

noko

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May 27, 2019
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Very interesting and how hard it is to do this plus the risk Nvidia made with having huge costly dies with vary little game software support. AMD should be thanking Nvidia for breaking the ice so to speak on this. Still as a consumer it was also a letdown when delivered, costly and the benefits for many, like me, hit in performance, IQ improvement with IQ degradation with lower resolution/settings needed, which everyone knows anyways. Ampere cannot come fast enough.
 
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