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Crytek Bashes Intel's Ray Tracing Plans 151

Vigile writes "Despite all good intentions, Intel continues to see a lot of its work on ray tracing countered not only by their competition, as you'd expect, but also by the very developers that Intel is going to depend on for success in the gaming market. The first major developer to speak on the Intel Larrabee and ray tracing debate was id Software's John Carmack, who basically said that Intel's current plans weren't likely to be implemented soon or ever. This time Cevat Yerli, one of the Crytek developers responsible for the graphically impressive titles Far Cry and Crysis, sees at least 3-5 more years of pure rasterization technology before moving to a hybrid rendering compromise. Intel has previously eschewed the idea of mixed rendering, but with more and more developers chiming in for it, it's likely where gaming will move."
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Crytek Bashes Intel's Ray Tracing Plans

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  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:09AM (#23035194)
    It's no surprise that Intel is being bashed over their idea of real-time CPU ray-tracing. As anyone who has ever ray-traced will realize it's extremely slow. At times you're talking about HOURS PER FRAME while realistically you want at least 30 frames per second and even that isn't considered great by many gamers. It's going to take a HUGE and I mean HUGE increase in computation power before that happens. Rasterization techniques are tremendously faster and they look nearly as good as Ray-tracing for the most part. Considering that we're yet to reach a point in Rasterization where we don't need more processing power (Crysis in high resolution.) I don't see us moving away from it yet. The day when we declare that we have graphics cards more powerful than we need for Rasterization is when we start moving towards ray-tracing. That day isn't anytime soon unfortunately.
    • Not only that but why blow that CPU power on ray-tracing. We'd have to first run out of other useful things to spend processing power on. I'm sure everyone on /. can think of a few dozen. Thinking it will be a=implemented anytime soon (for anything other than proof of concept) is absurd.
      • by edwdig ( 47888 )
        Not only that but why blow that CPU power on ray-tracing.

        Because the easiest way to increase the power of a computer nowadays is by adding more processor cores. A quad core processor is about as expensive as a mid-range graphics card. A dual processor motherboard and a pair of low end quad core processors is probably about as much money as one high end graphics card.
    • by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:32AM (#23035436)
      Here it goes again. Try to rasterize on CPU. It will be similarly slow. On the other hand with good hardware (like raytracing on gpu (PDF) [], or on cell processor (PDF) [], or just on PS3 cluster []) is ALREADY possible. If you could make custom accelerator for raytracing (PDF) [] gamers and graphicians would love it.
      • Very good point. Raytracing is obviously quite parralelisable from what you are saying, so it doesn't take a breakthrough in technology so much as just a whole bunch of appropriately raytracing oriented graphics cards chained together if you want to play raytraced games :P Rasterised graphics are good enough for me at the moment anyway, if it were between rasterised graphics or paying £2000 for photorealistic graphics, I'm not sure I'd be wanting to pony up the cash.. meh.. who am I kidding, I'd
      • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @11:01AM (#23036570)
        Those PS3 tech demos are cool but could more accurately be called ray casting. They bounce a primary and maybe a secondary ray off some fairly simple scenes. I expect if you looked close up there would be jaggies all over the shop, and things like reflection & shadows would be brutal. Proper ray tracing requires sub pixel sampling with jitter and recursion to look even remotely acceptable.

        I don't think anyone denies that ray tracing is lovely etc., but its a question of whether it is remotely feasible to do it on the current generation of CPUs or GPUs. If it takes a cluster of Cell processors (basically super fast number shovels) to render a simple scene you can bet we are some way off from it being viable yet.

        Maybe in the mean time it is more suitable for lighting / reflection effects and is used in conjunction with traditional techniques.

      • Try to rasterize on any hardware that's good at raytracing. Rasterizing will be tons faster. Rasterization is just as parallelizable as raytracing, but the current apis for doing it (Direct3D and OpenGL) are not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by -noefordeg- ( 697342 )
      Why would one want 30 framed per second?

      If I were to mention a number, I would either want at least ~72 frames per second (where the eye/brain would have a hard time discerning between individual frames) or at least match the sync of an ordinary LCD screen at 60 fps.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Why would one want 30 framed per second? If I were to mention a number, I would either want at least ~72 frames per second (where the eye/brain would have a hard time discerning between individual frames) or at least match the sync of an ordinary LCD screen at 60 fps.

        That is not usefull at all. 30 frames per second suffice to make the eye see something as "moving" instead of taking small steps, what You describe as "where the eye/brain would have a hard time discerning between individual frames". The reason that one sees flickering on a crt is that the phosphor dots "cool down" after being hit by the electron beam, the dots have to be hit time after time. To prevent this from giving a flickering screen, the frequency by which the pixels are "activated" has to have a ce

        • depends on how much action is going on, at 30fps you games will look perfectly smooth unless you turn quickly, then the steps between the images will be too large to perceive as smooth motion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Floritard ( 1058660 )

      you want at least 30 frames per second and even that isn't considered great by many gamers.

      I've always wondered about the need for a solid 60 fps in every game. A lot of games, especially console games of late, are going for that cinematic experience, and as theatrical movies themselves run at 24 fps, maybe all it would take is today's prettiest graphics and a really sophisticated use of motion-blur to make a good game running at that mere 24 fps. Maybe for first-person shooters and racing games, you want that almost hyper-real 60 fps of unblurred, crystal clear action, but for those other actio

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Dude, FPS for video games is not really comparable with FPS in films/TV etc., for one simple reason-

        In video games, the frame rate is also the rate at which everything else (physics, etc.) is calculated.
        • by andersbergh ( 884714 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:22AM (#23036022)
          No it's not, usually games have a separate loop for logic (physics, AI, etc) running at say, 30 fps. If the GPU can push more frames than that, then why not.
          • You wish that's how it worked. That's a VERY recent development... most games (C&C: Generals and later even) typically run everything in a main loop. It was so bad that when a friend of mine was working with OSG and did a separate render thread, he got NO speedup with ATI's drivers (they've since fixed that) because ATI just did a busy-wait if you enabled VSYNC. So his on a single CPU processing thread actually got slower when not blasting the images to the screen more times than the actual LCD could
        • But it is calculated based on time elapsed, not on a count of frames.
          So at 60, 30, or 1000fps, you still move the same speed.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jfim ( 1167051 )

            It depends on the game. For example, the first releases of Quake 3 had different physics depending on your framerate, due to integer clamping of player positions. They fixed the issue in later patches by adding an option to force everyone to run at 125 Hz, but by default it is off.

            This allows a couple jumps that are not possible UNLESS you are running at 125 Hz, such as the megahealth jump on q3dm13.

            This guide has more information: []

            • That's sort of inaccurate. It could still be based on time and exhibit that behavior, because the behavior isn't actually due to the framerate, it is due to basically bad rounding.

              Both framerate and the jumping issue are related to the amount of time that has passed.

              At 120fps, the time difference is, at 60fps it is, etc. Flooring both to get interger values gives you 8 and 16, rounding 8 and 17. Either way, these bits tend to accumulate and start giving wildly different values. In three f
      • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:21AM (#23035994)
        Well done motion-blurred 24 currently would take more power than 60 unblurred fps, but yeah, the notion isn't a bad one.
    • by xouumalperxe ( 815707 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:18PM (#23037548)

      Bullshit. Just the same as raster graphics, the amount of time you spend per frame on ray-tracing is adjusted to your needs and desires. Take, say, a Pixar film. Those are mostly done with raster graphics, with key effects done with ray-tracing. How much time do you reckon it takes to render each of one of those films' frames? (Pixar films are all drawn with Photorealistic Renderman, which is based on the REYES algorithm, which reads like a fancy raster engine)

      The part about computational power is another fine display of complete misrepresentation of reality. Raster graphics are this fast nowadays for two major reasons. The most obvious is because graphics cards entire massively parallel processors specialized in drawing raster graphics. It's pretty damn obvious that, given two techniques for the same result, the one for which you use a specialized processor will always be faster, which doesn't produce evidence that a technique is inherently faster than the other. The second, less obvious, is that raster graphics have been the focus of lots of research in recent years, which makes it a much more mature technology than ray-tracing. Once again, a more mature technology translates into better results, even if the core technique has no such advantage. What Intel is supposedly aiming for here is getting the specialized hardware and mindshare going for ray-tracing, which might lead to real-time ray tracing becoming a viable alternative for raster graphics.

    • Were you the guy backing isometric 3D in 93 right before this [] and this [] came out? Doom looked like shit compared to a good isometric game of the time, but it was cool and new and it paved the way. Yeah I've written a ray-tracer before and I know what it's like. There will be big limitations on realtime ray-tracing at first, but the trick is to work within those limitations (think stylized graphics) and make it happen. Trying to make a hyper-realistic Halo 4 with ray-tracing isn't the best way to be think
    • There are some fine real-time ray tracers out there that have interactive frame-rates with moderately complex scenes on reasonable hardware. Try the arauna [] demo, for instance. (Note: you probably need windows to run it, wine didn't work for me.) There are others as well; Arauna just happens to be one I've tried out recently. I got about 20fps or so on a friend's dual-core laptop at a resolution somewhere around 640x480. Not fast enough to throw out the GPU just yet, but usable. Somewhere between N-64

  • Stop motion movies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:11AM (#23035216)
    For years some claymation movies were set up by hand and shot frame by frame in a process called stop motion []. While adequate, the resulting film was typically unnatural and the movements very stiff compared to live actors.

    Enter ILM and go motion []. Instead of filming static scenes, the clay was moved slightly during the shot to create a blurry frame. This blurry frame made the scene seem more realistic. The blur is what the eye picks up in the movie frame, so an actor walking in a scene is not a set of pinpoint focus shots but a series of blurs as the man moves.

    Ray tracing is great for static scenes. But movement is the key to games that require this much detail, and so each frame should not be beautifully rendered framebuffers, but a mix of several framebuffers over the span of one frame. Star Wars did it great. Most computer games, not so much.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ozmanjusri ( 601766 )
      Ray tracing is great for static scenes.

      Where did you get that idea?

      Ray tracing can do selective motion blur very inexpensively. You test against a bounding sphere a triangl's motion span, then interpolate the ray along an approximation of the triangle's path.

      That's a very bad analogy you're using...

    • Actually programs can use 4d raytracing. It means program can scatter samples in time dimension, which gives blurring. It's only one of techniques for blurring in raytracing.
    • Aardman Animations (the creators of Wallace and Gromit) may disagree with you that stop motion animation looks "unnatural" and "stiff".
    • by Bombula ( 670389 )
      You are absolutely 100% correct, and anyone in the VFX field can tell you this is true. This is why motion blur is such a hugely effective way to improve visual quality in gaming with a very low performance cost. It is silly that 3D engines don't make better use of frame and motion blurring. As you pointed out, the human eye does not see motion as a series of static, focused snapsots; it sees motion as a slurry of blurred imagery. Conveniently, it is much easier to render blurs than pin-point accuracy.


    • Ray tracing is great for static scenes. But movement is the key to games that require this much detail, and so each frame should not be beautifully rendered framebuffers, but a mix of several framebuffers over the span of one frame.

      No, no, no! Mixing several framebuffers together gives you *lousy* motion blur. You'll get severe artifacts from each pixel using the same set of uniform samples in the time domain -- very fast moving objects can appear cloned in multiple places, for example.

      Honestly, ray tracing has been getting motion blur right since 1984. [] Not to mention that it can even simulate the effect of camera shutters. []

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:12AM (#23035230)
    it's customers that drive the market, not developers. christ these guys sound like a bunch of OSS developers.
    • Nothing wrong with giving the customers more options, and letting them decide. Most customers wouldn't say "hey, can you work on superfast ray tracing please, I want my Monsters Inc game to look just like the real thing!". Most people wouldn't know the difference between ray tracing and rasterisation if it hit them in the face (and bounced off at an angle of reflection equal but opposite to the angle of incidence).
    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:21AM (#23035996) Homepage Journal

      it's customers that drive the market, not developers.

      In the case of a company like Intel who's pushing a new technology, the developers are the customers. It's not Joe Consumer who's going to be buying into Intel's technology. (At least not until there are games that support it.) It's going to be the developers. Developers who will be taking a gamble on a next generation technology in hopes that they lead the pack. And as history has proven, the first out of the gate often earns the most money. (At least in the short term.)

      Of course, history has also proven that new technologies often fail. Thus the risk is commiserate with the reward. There may be a lot to gain, but there is also a lot to lose. A lot of dollar signs, that is.
  • by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:13AM (#23035234)

    Cevat Yerli, one of the Crytek developers responsible for the graphically impressive titles Far Cry and Crysis
    Is he the same developer who made a game (Crysis) so resource hungry that no gaming platform can handle it? Shouldn't we be asking someone who knows how to make a game look great on current hardware, such as Valve perhaps?
    • by ZiakII ( 829432 )
      Is he the same developer who made a game (Crysis) so resource hungry that no gaming platform can handle it? Shouldn't we be asking someone who knows how to make a game look great on current hardware, such as Valve perhaps?

      I saw a demo for Quake 4 done with ray tracing even with 4x Quadcores the game was unplayable.. here is the demo. [] Going with ray tracing will definitely not make any game less resource hungry.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yetihehe ( 971185 )
        I would really like to see quake4 with pixel shading on just cpu. You people forget that current games use specialisted graphic processors which currently even go to 128 shading units working in parallel. What if I had 128 specialized raytracing units? We should see results THEN
        • ...and you wouldn't leave nVidia out of the loop because their are always gamers that want that one extra level of realism. You could have an Intel core doing threads of tracing and have the nVidia core work along side of it giving more depth, more rays, or real time radiosity down the line.

          This is why I don't understand why there is a huge debate on this. It's not like GPUs will suddenly vanish because of raytracing. They just won't be mainstream, which may be the reason. /shrug
          • They WILL be mainstream. They will just have raytracing units along normal shading units. This is not about gpu OR rpu (ray processing unit), but gpu manufacturers want all to belevie that (or meybe they believe it themselves).
            • ehm... what if those people actually start making complete game? give me the other half of crysis story!! get me to kick those alien on that island!
            • Not really, because you wouldn't be REQUIRED to have a GPU/RPU to do any of the rendering. Right now, you'd be hard pressed to play anything without a DirectX 9 card where with ray tracing you could just buy the biggest/best processor and build your system around that. You'd get good enough performance and only those that need bleeding edge will actually buy accelerators.
              • Just like with current rasterization? Even current mainboards and laptops have rasterization accelerators (modern gpu) built in. So why not go ahead and make ray tracing units in gpu? They have already vertex shaders, pixel shaders, ray shaders are next logical step. Of course there are software solutions for rasterization too, like Swift shader []. And they are comparable to raytracing solutions in speed :D
              • It's also quite possible when we hit this "good enough" threshold, people won't need to update their CPU. GPUs are more efficient then CPUs for graphics (raster AND ray tracing) -- dedicated HW will always be more efficient then generic HW, with power and performance. So it's quite possible people will be able to get away with a cheap VIA/AMD CPU and a decent GPU and leave intel out of the loop.

                Obviously, this scenario doesn't apply to everyone. Some people will always need faster CPUs. It could easily a
    • Is he the same developer who made a game (Crysis) so resource hungry that no gaming platform can handle it?

      Are you kidding? Nobody wants to play the 100th Doom clone other than for replay value. For a 'wow' factor, a game needs something new, something that was never done before, or never done that good. A never-seen-before feeling of immersion, a great, unique storyline, artwork that makes existing stuff look old, and sometimes... unique technical features.

      To enable innovative technical features, you often need more processing power, whether from CPU, GPU or elsewhere. And for that reason, any game that

    • by AioKits ( 1235070 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:54AM (#23035684)
      It's not THAT resource hungry! Sure, I mean, I had to steal, err, borrow a few human organs, particularly livers and kidneys and follow some archaic diagrams I found in my original Doom shareware documentation to create a device powerful enough to run Crysis at full capacity. But it worked damnit! For about 30 minutes... I think I got something wrong though when I built it because now all it wants to play is Doom 6, I didn't even realize there was a Doom 6 out yet! Oh, and there's this red 'gash' on the wall behind my desk. It's kinda oozing but but the drip pan takes care of that. One of my cats is missing too.
    • I think someone who pushed systems slightly *over* the edge is excellently positioned know where the edge currently is.

      And yes, slightly. Give it three months and there'll be plenty of systems that can run the game very well. (Alas, mine will not be one of them. I hope to game at least a year more on my current rig)
      • by Nullav ( 1053766 )

        I think someone who pushed systems slightly *over* the edge is excellently positioned know where the edge currently is.
        Someone who pushed systems over the edge and didn't bother to step back a bit, mind you. Also, only those with more money than sense will rush out for new hardware every six months.
        Then again, we are talking about the 'gamer' crowd, with their window-modded monitors and magic smoke pumps.
    • Crysis = "Hey, we got this really neat game engine but we can't afford keeping this in QA to work out all the bugs - hey, let's just wrap a shell of a game around it and market it. People will pay to test our game." Management = "Brilliant!" Now that my rant is over, Crysis was the most rediculous release of any game/software I have ever seen. As a software developer, I was embarassed by the amount of bugs and just dumb stuff that should have been caught. And then the first major patch for it wrecked t
    • Seriously? Are you this stupid? It's only that resource hungry if you want to have every god-damn feature enabled. Should they have chopped out all of the extra-pretty features so it looked and ran as well as Half-Life 2? Then it would run on four-year-old hardware (like it does now, if you turn stuff off!) but the people that do have fast hardware wouldn't get any benefit. And as you beef up your computer, you'll be able to continue to get extra enjoyment out of the game for years as you dial it up.
      • Seriously? Are you this stupid? It's only that resource hungry if you want to have every god-damn feature enabled. Should they have chopped out all of the extra-pretty features so it looked and ran as well as Half-Life 2? Then it would run on four-year-old hardware (like it does now, if you turn stuff off!) but the people that do have fast hardware wouldn't get any benefit. And as you beef up your computer, you'll be able to continue to get extra enjoyment out of the game for years as you dial it up.

        Please refer to another clearly "very stupid" poster who has replied to my post above - The Post []

        And the fact that it can't have every feature running is kind of my point, it isn't that he can make new really pretty features, it is that he isn't the best placed person on how to optimize them for actual game play, there may be more valuable opinions out there. I am not dissing the act of chasing the carrot, I am attacking those who release buggy software which is way too ambitious about the hardware's abil

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by monoqlith ( 610041 )
      It would seem so at first, yes. But then, I would argue, the person who has made a game that was meant to run on hardware that doesn't exist yet might be more qualified to comment on rendering methods that run on hardware that doesn't exist yet.
  • by mofag ( 709856 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:27AM (#23035376)
    I ignored this story first time around because I assumed it must be an April fool's joke which I think is not unreasonable: Intel leading innovation in the GPU sector ....
    • Intel will be re-entering the discrete graphics market at either the end of this year or early 2009 - How well they can compete in the traditional Direct3D/OpenGL graphics market remains to be seen (although Intel are rather bullish about it at the moment), but it appears that they will also be targeting 'Larrabee' (for that is its codename) parts at other possible market sectors such as real-time ray tracing and other general-purpose computing tasks a la NVIDIA's Tesla GPGPU offerings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Molochi ( 555357 )
      ARP did the article "DX11 to support hardware accelleration of raytracing" (and it was an April Fools prank). However Intel is "serious" about hardware that does it... or at least serious about owning and promoting patents for the hardware.
      • Mod parent up!!!

        There is still alot of confusion around that DX11 "announcement". Time for somebody to set it right!
  • I know that CPU Ray-Tracing is thrown around a lot here on slashdot, and yes, it's slow (for current processors) BUT, lets look at the company doing the mudslinging at Intel. Crytek. Their latest release, Crysis, has abismally poor performance. All of their press releases for the last few years say "oh sure, we support multithreading" / "Get a Quad Core for our game" and I Know quite a few people who's main reason FOR getting a Quad core was Crysis. Then Launch day came, and we realized that the game is sin
  • why bash? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damnfuct ( 861910 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:32AM (#23035424)
    Yeah, so it's going to take 3-5 years before anything real comes out of it. Do you think that process of using high-k hafnium in the 45 nm microprocessors was developed overnight? I'm sure intel is used to the R&D cycle, and 3-5 years is not unheard of. Besides, how much longer can you use rasterization "band aids" to address rending issues (reflections, shadows, light sources)? Rasterization is just a hack to try to implement features that simply "fall out" of ray tracing. Sure it's going to take computational power, but we're not going to be using pentium 75's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LingNoi ( 1066278 )

      Sure it's going to take computational power

      So why waste it on ray tracing which adds little benefit over current techniques when it could be spent on so many other things?

      There are other ways of producing global illumination which is much faster then ray tracing. It's pointless because it's like taking a step back just because we can now bute force simple scenes.

      Ray Tracing will still be slow on global illumination anyway. The more reflections you have the longer it takes, so it's not going to look as good

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by deroby ( 568773 )
        On the other hand, ray-tracing would be much less of a hack. Things simply look great the way they are, not because you niftily put a semi-transparent super-texturized with shader magic polygon in that corner of the field of view whenever the light source is like that and the so-called mirror is on that position etc...

        Sure it requires (a lot) more cpu-power, but development wise it should all be much more straight-forward. Build the scene and have it rendered.

        Right now I'm under the impression that each tim
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Goaway ( 82658 )
          Ray-tracing is nearly just as much of a hack as rasterizing polygons is. It's miles away from anything like a realistic model of lighting.

          And it would still require just as much tweaking to make it look good, and make it fast.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by steelfood ( 895457 )
            It's a good first step to true global illumination.

            Progress doesn't always come in leaps and bounds. Sometimes, it's about baby steps.
            • by Goaway ( 82658 )
              No, it's not even necessarily a good first step. Traditional raytracing becomes severely limiting as soon as you try to do any kind of realistic lighting. It needs huge kludges, tons of processing power, and additional techniques that work just as well with other rendering methods.

              And with the limitations that trying to render in realtime imposes on you, it's no wonder game developers aren't interested.

              Ray tracing is good if you want to render silver balls on infinite checkerboards. For real scenes, it's no
          • I'd go one further, and say that everything on a computer is a hack. Unless you're actually building the scene, shining light on it, then capturing it with a camera to display on the screen, all your graphics are just algorithms, hacks and approximations.

            Ray-tracing is just a particularly inefficient hack.
      • by glyph42 ( 315631 )

        Ray Tracing will still be slow on global illumination anyway. The more reflections you have the longer it takes, so it's not going to look as good too.

        Look as good as what? The magical non-raytracing global illumination algorithm that you are hiding from the rest of the world? I don't think "global illumination" means what you think it means. Reality check: ray tracing methods are the only way to correctly compute GI today. And by "correctly", I mean "does not fail miserably on the first non-trivial case encountered". Look up Ingo Wald's work, and Eric Veach while you're at it. If you can do it better, then do us a favor and write it up in a SIGGRA

  • We can't afford to render every pixel to infinite depth, so we must be smart. I predict that over the next five years or so, the techniques around ray tracing will develop. That's subtly different from saying, "We'll be using chips powerful enough to ray-trace." Video encoding took the same path, but now the stream contains enough information to make us believe that the information is there. While I don't believe that games will have every pixel in every frame rendered by ray tracing in the immediate futu
  • Cevat Yerli is an INKER! []
  • Well... duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:22AM (#23036028) Journal
    Carmack didn't really bashed it, neither did Crytek. They just make it clear that you can't have rasterization on day N and have raytracing on day N+1. A 3-5 years transition period is very reasonable. Using raytracing optimally requires to change the whole data structure of the virtual world. It would require making new modeling tools, new rendering engines, integrating new possibilities into the game design.
    Keep also in mind that Intel proposes this as a future way of doing rendering. Their hardware is not even here yet. Given this, any prediction below 3 years would be quite surprising.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by daveisfera ( 832409 )
      Actually, Carmack did say that he thought it would never fully transition to raytracing. He said that rasterization would always stay a step ahead and could "emulate" or fake a lot of the effects that raytracing can pull off. He did say that a hybrid method showed the most promise, but he also spent the majority of the time talking about how his new idea (has some goofy name that I can't remember right now) would be the best option of all.
    • You don't need anything new to use ray tracing. Ray tracing is just a new lighting method. A few minor tweaks to an existing engine and you could use all the models and textures you were already using. The only thing that will change is the shadows, reflections, etc.

      At some point when the 3D models get sufficiently complex then ray tracing will become a lot more attractive. With enough complexity you can model the small details that are currently faked with textures. Those small details would be hard t
      • Re:Well... duh! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:06PM (#23037410) Journal
        Yes, you can do raytracing on polygons, but it kind of misses the point. For rendering polygons, Carmack is right, rasterization will probably always stay faster as long as triangles are bigger than 1 pixel.

        The point of raytracing is that instead of having a 100,000 polygons cloth animation to raster, you could have a smoother result with about 1000 control points on a mathematical surface.

        Today, game makers and modelers have the habit of breaking everything into triangles because of rasterization but the raytracing approach isn't limited to triangles; it can use any shape for which a collision with a ray can be computed. It is a very powerful approach but new tools have to be developed to use it to its full extent.
  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:48AM (#23036366)
    Let's surmise for a minute:

    The problem with ray tracing, as Carmack said, is that it will always be much slower than raster-based graphics with a given amount of computing power. He pointed out that there's nothing impressive about Intel's demo of a game from two generations ago running sort of acceptably at moderate resolution on an overpowered Intel demo system. He said that they'll never be able to produce a ray traced engine competitive with the state of the art raster-based games, so the ray tracing, while technically satisfying, will in every case offer poor performance for inferior graphics.

    All of this boils down to a time lag. If raster graphics can do something in 2008, ray tracing can do it in 2012, etc. What if raster graphics stopped progressing for four years? Then ray tracing would have a chance to catch up, perhaps leading to new engines and APIs based on ray tracing, which would ensure long term use.

    But wait...raster graphics have already been at a standstill for two years, for the first time since their inception. When the 360 came out and then the 8800 line showed up to put it firmly in its technical place, gaming graphics capabilities suddenly stopped. Not only did nVidia have its first unassailable lead over ATI in a long time, but suddenly the PC gaming market finally showed very strong signs of finally dying. Most of the remaining PC game developers shifted development to consoles, leading to (again as Carmack pointed out) a stationary graphical hardware target for new games. The overall number of PC gamers managed to stay high, but literally almost all of them were playing World of Warcraft, which has very low graphics card requirements.

    Now two years have gone by, and WoW still dominates PC gaming, while only a few games have shown up that really push current hardware, with few people buying them. It's a pity that the most graphically impressive game is also quite mediocre when it comes to gameplay. There's very little market pressure on nVidia outside of the small enthusiast community, and they've managed to milk a 4x hardware lead over consoles for an unprecedented length of time. The graphics card industry used to beat the living crap out of Moore's Law, but now they've managed to eek out a 10% improvement in over two years, which is just sad. The next generation parts may or may not be coming soon, may or may not bring a large performance boost, and may or may not have any software at all to really justify their purchase.

    Going waaaaay back to the beginning, CPU speeds over this same time period have been keeping up with their normal exponential increase in power. At this rate, it would only take two more generations of PC gaming failure for ray tracing on the CPU to catch up with rastering on the GPU, and if that happens, it could end up going to consoles. Hell, it might even be good for PC gaming's health. Currently most console players have a PC, but with its Intel integrated graphics it's only suited to playing games from 6-8 years ago. Already those same PCs can probably match that with ray tracing. If games were only dependent on CPU speed, they'd be a lot more accessible and easily played by a much larger part of the population.

  • promoting a new car engine that everyone wants b/c it is so "good" ( lots of horsepower, torque, etc ) ... but the desirable "good" traits come at the price of a tradeoff of more "good" vs less miles-per-gallon.


    Aside from the horrible metaphor to explain my point. I am basically saying that it sounds very much like ray tracing is something Intel wants everyone to use ... b/c by using it everyone will need faster computers... the need for faster computers means everyone needs to buy more Intel products
  • simplicity wins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <saintium@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Friday April 11, 2008 @11:08AM (#23036642)
    Like all technology races, simplicity wins. If Intel provides tools that make it easier to develop ray tracing games, the GPU will be displaced.
  • Perhaps OT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @11:57AM (#23037292) Homepage
    But how much better do game graphics need to be?

    I played the Crysis demo on a recent graphics card, and was suitably impressed for ten minutes. After that, it was the same old boring FPS that I stopped playing five years ago. Graphics seem stuck in the exponential curve of the uncanny valley, where incremental improvements in rendering add nothing to the image except to heighten that sense of 'almost there' that signals to the brain that it's *not* photorealism.

    This isn't meant to be the same old "it's the gameplay, stupid" rant that we get here. It's simply to question why any real work is being done on rendering engines when we seem to long have passed the point of diminishing returns.
    • by BlacKat ( 114545 )
      Because if you keep doing incremental improvements you just may climb out of the uncanny valley... if you never bother to try you will just stand at the edge, on the wrong side of the valley.

      Not working on new technology for rendering would be something akin to the patent office declaring everything had already been invented so they might as well close down... which didn't happen.

      Personally, having grown up on 8-bit systems (Atari mostly), then 16-, 32- and now 64-Bit processors... in my lifetime... I can't
    • I agree. I remember the days when games like Mario 64 were coming out, when 3D was a huge novelty and something to get excited about after decades of 2D games. Nowadays, graphical improvements generally just mean slightly sharper textures, a bit more draw depth, some fancy lighting technique you don't notice anyway unless you're looking for it etc.

      I'd rather developers concentrated on making games look better with artwork, animation, modelling, scenery etc, rather than just throwing endless buzzwords at the
      • So have you played Motorstorm or Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for the PS3?

        Uncharted especially has beautiful animations and excellent textures.
    • by IdahoEv ( 195056 )

      It's simply to question why any real work is being done on rendering engines when we seem to long have passed the point of diminishing returns.

      Because people keep spending money to buy the new tech. It sells. There's money in it. No other reason is necessary for the companies to want to improve. (There may be other reasons, but that one is sufficient.)
  • by SilentBob0727 ( 974090 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:40PM (#23037800) Homepage
    Personally, I'd love to see realtime raytracing see the light of day because I recognize the math behind it as more "pure" than rasterization. Of course there are several algorithmic hurdles preventing pure realtime raytracing from seeing the light of day, unless you start to hyperparallelize the operations in a dedicated GPU, and even then there are obstacles; in the worst cases, a ray can bounce along an infinite path, dividing into multiple segments as it goes, leading to infinitely branched recursion until some heuristic or another cuts it short. And as we all know, "heuristic" is a fancy word for "cheat".

    Further, raytracing cannot handle advanced refraction and reflection effects, like the surface of water causing uneven illumination at the bottom of a pool, or a bright red ball casting a red spot on a white piece of paper, without preemptive "photon mapping", which is another cheat.

    In short, we have not been able improve upon the original raytracing algorithms without "cheating reality". Modern raytracing that includes photon mapping is a hybrid anyway. So the raytracing purists really have nothing to stand on until there's enough hardware to accurately calculate the paths of quadrillions of photons at high resolution sixty times a second. I'm not saying we won't get there, I'm saying probably not within this decade.

    The reality is, the only advantage raytracing has over rasterization is its ability to compute reflection, refraction, and some atmospheric effects (e.g. a spotlight or a laser causing a visible halo in its path) with "physical" accuracy. The capabilities of rasterization have grown leaps and bounds since the 1960s, roughly linearly in proportion to available hardware.

    Purists be damned. A hybrid of each technique utilizing what it's good at (raytracing for reflection, refraction, and atmospheric halos, rasterization for drawing the physical objects, "photon mapping" for advanced reflection and refraction effects) is likely the best approach here.
  • Larrabee won't be ready for primetime till 2010-2012.
  • I don't see how a particular technology can be criticized based on today's limitations. It would be like someone in 1985 completely discrediting 3D because computers back then couldn't handle it. Why bother with 3D when 2D games provided a suitably entertaining experience.

    While some of today's games certainly look impressive they've still got a long way to go because they can be deemed realistic. Actually, I find photo-realism to be bland. It's kind of like photo-realistic paintings. Certainly, the techniqu
  • This sounds familiar... Oh yeah, it's the Cell. Of course, it won't be the Cell, but I think it competes with that more than traditional GPUs.
  • Intel is pushing raytracing, not because it's the right thing to do, but rather because it directly benefits Intel by increasing demand for fast multi-core processors.

    Bankers push investments, not because it benefits you, but because it benefits them! Intel, as a corporation, is interested in your money, not your best interests.
  • I'll take ray tracing, TYVM. I think if ray tracing had near the amount of resources invested in specialized hardware, I think we'd see things like this [], and this [] in our games.

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