Nvidia is expected to make some announcements this month as part of its annual GPU Technology Conference, which will be an all-digital affair (save for the keynote, because that's been cancelled altogether). Ahead of the online event, Nvidia teased an announcement on Twitter, then spurred further interest when the tweet was deleted.
The tweet came from @NvidiaANZ, the company's official Twitter handle for news and announcements in Australia and New Zealand. The folks at eTeknix managed to take a screen grab before it was removed, which consisted of a date (March 19, 2020) an eyeball emoji, and an interesting black and white animation.
While it's no longer available to view, the animation appeared to depict an eyeball tracking two points of light crossing over the iris. There's been some speculation that this could somehow be related to Nvidia's next-generation Ampere GPU, though TechPowerUp brings up the possibility of it actually pointing to a technique called foveated rendering.
It could technically be both, though the latter is more plausible. Foveated rendering is something Nvidia demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2016. It's basically an eye-tracking technique to make rendering scenes in virtual reality less demanding on hardware.
"Each new increase in the resolution of head-mounted displays (HMDs) means an increase in the number of pixels that the GPU must render. To maintain a fluid VR experience, we must continue to find new ways to optimize VR rendering performance. The emergence of HMDs with integrated eye tracking offers a new way of improving both perceived visual quality and performance, since the human eye perceives visual quality differently across the field of vision," Nvidia explained in a blog post from 2019.
Nvidia points out that the human eye only notices "maximum details" in the fovea, a very narrow region of the eye. Peripheral vision is less detailed and typically blurred.
"VRS [variable rate shading] foveated rendering takes advantage of this quirk of human perception to render with higher-quality at the gaze location while rendering at reduced quality in the peripheral region," Nvidia says.
Nvidia's deleted tweet may have been teasing a commercial launch of foveated rendering, whether in relation to Ampere or not. It could also be something entirely different, perhaps even related to ray tracing. We won't know for another week, assuming an announcement is coming on March 19.