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Intel Shows Off Quake Wars, Ray Traced 368

Posted by timothy
from the this-time-I-really-mean-oooh-shiny dept.
An anonymous reader writes "At the Research@Intel Day 2008, Intel showed a ray-traced version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Compared to the original game, a water with reflections and refractions and a physically correct glass shader were added. Also, a camera portal with up to 200 recursions to itself has been demonstrated. To show off this ongoing research in the topic of real-time ray tracing, a four-socket system with quad cores has been used that allowed rendering the enhanced visual effects in 1280x720 at 14-29 fps. Just two years before, early versions of Quake 4: Ray Traced ran only at 256x256 with 17 fps. Even though Intel's upcoming Larrabee will be primarily a rasterizer, the capabilities for also doing ray tracing on it should deliver interesting opportunities."
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Intel Shows Off Quake Wars, Ray Traced

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  • Voxels? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xanavi (1197431) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:16PM (#23805033) Homepage
    What ever happened to voxels?
    • Height maps (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:20PM (#23805061) Homepage Journal
      What NovaLogic called a "voxel space" in Comanche was really just a height map [wikipedia.org]. I guess the reasoning is that a height map is just a run-length-encoded representation of a voxel space.
  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:22PM (#23805079)
    A lot of power for some eye candy. IANAG(gamer) but it seems to me that more investment into the story line and playability would go a lot further than raising the system requir --oooh shiny!
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shermo (1284310) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:26PM (#23805111)
      Certainly more gameplay and a decent storyline would make it a better game. But sadly, fancy graphics will probably sell more on opening day. (See spiderman sequels)
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sabz5150 (1230938) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:34PM (#23805167)

        Certainly more gameplay and a decent storyline would make it a better game. But sadly, fancy graphics will probably sell more on opening day. (See spiderman sequels)
        Really? See: Wii.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nschubach (922175) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:52PM (#23805275) Journal
          One odd case in many. How many people go to the store and look at the back of the box for pictures of the game. How many game sites have screenshots... Graphics sell.
          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:58PM (#23805317)
            Except the graphics kind of look like crap. If it's going to run at 16fps it better look a LOT better than traditional optimized rendering. But.. well, they're very low-res screenshots and the texture detail is Quake III at best. I kind of raised my eyebrows at a few of those ET:QW shots; the environments seem very sparsely populated by anything except solid geometry and the near-solid white skies reminded me of Halo 1.
          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:02PM (#23805333) Homepage
            Can you even tell what the game looks like from the shots on the back? 1.5 inch square photos don't give you much of an idea of the graphics quality of a game. Especially when you don't know if the screenshot is from a cutscene or from actual gameplay.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Especially when you don't know if the screenshot is from a cutscene or from actual gameplay.
              Memories of every final fantasy game ever just flooded my mind. Those lying bastards!!
          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

            by beav007 (746004) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:00PM (#23805681) Journal
            The Wii was popular because of certain promised games which are still yet to be Wiileased. [imageshack.us]
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:59PM (#23805985) Homepage
        I fail to see why we can't have both.

        I loves me a good plot, with rich writing and character development, but I also loves me some 27" max-detail graphical virtuosity. Mass Effect is getting a lot of love from me right now, because it delivers a healthy balance of plot and visuals.

        Crysis, of course, is a rather sexual experience at 1920x1200. Every now and then I'll perch myself atop a cliff and gaze at the breathtaking imagery... then I go back into cloak mode and snipe the mofos back to hell! I'm not a big FPS fan, but Crysis is one of the few titles that give me a sense of immersion, like I'm actually a gun wielding superhero instead of some synthetic alien cannon fodder.

        Would I play Crysis if it looked like ass ? Probably not, because that particular experience hinges on the realistic graphics and all the fine details.

        Would I play Quake if it looked like ass ? Hell yes, I would! In fact I did, it was called Quake 1-2-3... They're ghetto by today's standards, but the action was solid and I happily pissed away countless hours railing goddamned teenagers on instagib maps. Just give me a pixel to shoot at and I'm set!

        I'm trying to think of a gorgeous game that sucked... memory is failing me right now, but there have been many. Actually, at the risk of getting flamed to death, I'd say Oblivion was one such stinker (for me). The graphics were pretty nice for its time, but I found the actual gameplay sluggish and clumsy. The sandbox concept worked well, but I spent most of my time walking around those stupid hell dimensions looking for stuff to kill, and then dicking around towns waiting for some NPC to come out of hiding at a specific time of day. Much like GTA, I quickly got bored of the storyline and started playing randomly, killing innocents and all the guards I could handle. I stopped playing it after maybe two weeks... epic fail.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:29PM (#23805129)
      Some very nominal special purpose hardware would eat this alive. Remember intel is using unaccelerated general purpose processors to do this!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jomiolto (1092375)

        Some very nominal special purpose hardware would eat this alive. Remember intel is using unaccelerated general purpose processors to do this!

        Exactly, this is what most people seem to forget. While 4 quad-cores (quad quad-core?) might seem like a lot, it is nothing compared to the recent GPUs that have hundreds of cores. If a specialized ray tracing processor could get you even half of the processing power of a single core of these general purpose CPUs (with a fraction of the cost/power usage), imagine what 100-200 of these on a GPU could do... (Keep in mind that ray tracing scales extremely well when you add processing units).

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Yetihehe (971185) on Monday June 16, 2008 @01:58AM (#23806993)
          And now imagine a beowulf cluster of those! I'm actually working on it, Amazon EC2 is going to really rock for some advertisers. Imagine walking through newly designed casino, with all visual details. Only thing required would be laptop with internet connection sufficient for hdtv stream. Heck, you could even send small video to iphone. Imagine realtime raytracing on beowulf cluster with output to your iphone...
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:33PM (#23805163)
      A lot of power for some eye candy.

      Only sixteen cores?! For real computing power, you'd could run even more cores-- perhaps (Beowolf?) cluster several million machines so that each is responsible for a single ray/pixel.

      Ultimately, this massively parallel distribution will provide data from an even bigger experiment-- what happens when you trace rays from the sun, bounce them off the earth, hit the CO2 layer, bounce back to the earth, back to the atmosphere, back to the earth...
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:38PM (#23805191) Homepage
      Sorry, but expectations change. Fancy graphics don't make a good game, but poor graphics (as relative to the times) does make a game poorer. Once upon a time I was happy with jumping 2D sprites in 16 colors, but when you've played a visually stunning game you think "Why can't [good gameplay game] look like that? It'd be even better. Don't get me wrong, it's being a good game that makes me want to play it long in the first place but when I do play, it shouldn't look like an eyesore. Same as you wouldn't play a lousy game, but if a good game had poor and repetative music you'd get fed up with it. Not that everything has to be ultra-hyper-realistic, I for example love Sam & Max which is hardly the epitome of realism, but I for example like that they upgraded the graphics engine so I could play season 2 in 1920x1200, looks much better that way. I also played through the whole Oblivion (got fed up by the expansion tho) and the fact that it looked so good definately was one of the reasons I was at it that long. And half the reason me and a friend play through Bubble Bobble (you'd think we were emulator cheating if you saw a recording, we cruise through) is the catchy tune, the other half nostalgia. The only downside is that making a game is so much, much work than it was in the old days. Though honestly, I'd rather take 10 excellent games than 1000 ones in any category.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zerth (26112) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:40PM (#23805567)
        And yet Dwarf Fortress/Nethack/etc is so much fun, despite being ASCII. Perhaps even because of being ASCII.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:41PM (#23805575)
        Fancy graphics don't make a good game, but poor graphics (as relative to the times) does make a game poorer.

        every ps3 owner tells me this same thing. Yet they always are at my house playing my Wii.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Bodrius (191265) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:38PM (#23805889) Homepage
          Not sure why this is only moderated as funny - it is quite true.

          But that's because the Wii graphics are not really poor - they're just adequate for the games people really play.

          Of course, if you try to put something like Assasin's Creed or GTA IV on the Wii - the graphics will suck and affect the sense of immersion and gameplay.

          But that's also why no one is really playing those kind of games in the Wii.
        • by billcopc (196330)
          Good one, but seriously.. fire up one of the many horrible Wii games out there, and you'll see that great graphics can save a crap game, but crap graphics on a crap game will make you want to throw chairs.

          What makes the Wii so much fun is that it has a couple dozen absolutely fantastic games that make up for the hundreds of shitty ones. It's like the SNES all over again!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by p0tat03 (985078)

          Because when they're *not* over at your house they're too busy playing singleplayer or internet multiplayer, neither segments are really covered by the Wii. The "friend code" thing (as opposed to, say, a memorable user name) has completely destroyed any chance for the Wii to ever become a popular internet multiplayer machine.

          See... on the PS360 you got vast, epic RPGs, crazy single-player shoot-em-ups, and lots of awesome multiplayer action games (COD4, Halo 3, etc etc.), on the Wii you've got party games

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by William Baric (256345) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:50PM (#23805941)
        I bought Oblivion, looked at the pretty graphics and stop playing this extremely boring game pretty fast. I only did the mage's quests, the arena and went as far as to escort Martin to Bruma in the main quest. That's it. As I wanted to play a CRPG at the time, what I did was play again with Ultima Underworld, which is probably your definition of "eyesore".

        Personally, after countless bad experience, I'm to a point where I'm very worry with good graphics. I almost automatically associate good graphics with poor gameplay and I tend to simply overlook those games.

        As an example, a year and a half ago I discovered the Gothic series with Gothic 3. It was a fun game, much better than Oblivion, but I also got bored with the game after a while. I read a lot that the previous title were better, so I bought a copy of Gothic 1 on ebay. Of course, graphics were a lot worse, but the game was also a lot better and it was one of the few games I finished. I also bought Gothic Universe simply to have Gothic 2 NOTR.

        Of course, the same game would be better with good graphics than with bad graphics, but graphics are still secondary to gameplay. I'd prefer an "eyesore" with good gameplay than a beauty with an average gameplay.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Keyper7 (1160079) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:40PM (#23805211)

      Actually, I believe real-time ray tracing open up some very interesting gameplay possibilities if people know how to use it.

      Imagine a FPS, for example, on which you could notice a sneaking bastard on an unusual angle behind you because you saw his reflection on the doorknob you were about to pull. Or maybe cursing at the newbie because he didn't pay attention to the position of a specific lamp and now your team is screwed because your shadows have been noticed.

      Then again, I think the whole FPS genre is saturated. Examples of other types of games are welcome here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Typing Monkey (537890)
        Yeah the genre could use more creativity. That said, ETQW is not your run of mill FPS.
        Multiplayer only. Encourages teamwork by having five different classes that need to work together. Each map has multiple objectives. The two sides doesn't have the same weapons, vehicles and, more then often then not, specialities.
        If you like FPS multiplayer games but crave more then deathmatch and capture the flag give the demo a try. Avaliable on both linux and windows(and mac but only full game afaik).
        A bit of a p
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lordofwhee (1187719)
          As a fairly long-time FPS player, I can tell you that no FPS will EVER have any large amount of teamwork (unless you're in a clan, playing with friends, etc), no matter how much the game 'encourages' it.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by jaxtherat (1165473)
            You can't have played Tribes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starsiege:_Tribes [wikipedia.org] or OpFlash http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_flashpoint [wikipedia.org] much.

            Even with total strangers they were quite good at forcing people to help each other.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Typing Monkey (537890)
            I guess that depends on how you define teamwork. In the etqw context I have engineers coming around to repair my vehicle when it's damaged. Field Ops supplying me with ammo. Medics healing and reviving me so I can complete a hack on the objective. Strogg technicians creating spawn hosts from fallen enemy troops so I can respawn behind enemy lines. Strogg oppressors putting up shields around me so I can disarm an explosive charge without getting shot in the back.
            The addition of objectives gives players some
        • by billcopc (196330)
          Yep, ETQW is an interesting game reminiscent of Battlefield to some degree, but it only serves to highlight my deeply-rooted sociopathy, because I fail miserably vs the computer, even on easy difficulty :( I haven't even ventured online yet, I already know I'll get creamed.

          Comparatively, I enjoyed UT3 a bit more, largely due to its simplicity: grab orb, make a run for it, capture node / destroy enemy node. No support classes, just Speedball 2 with guns :)
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DeathCarrot (1133225) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:57PM (#23805667)
        A reflection on a doorknob and shadows are already quite easily achievable by current raster-based techniques. The former with dynamic cube-map FBO/PBO reflections (not perfectly accurate reflections, but given the size of a doorknob, more than acceptable). For the latter, per-fragment shadows (maps and volumes) have been around for quite some time (granted, in certain extremely high detail scenes ray tracing shadows might be faster).

        The biggest immediately noticeable pros of ray tracing from what I've seen are reflections in arbitrarily complex geometry (current generation raster shadows are only viable for planar and some spherical reflections, unless there's a technique I'm not aware of). This, however isn't a good enough reason to switch to a purely ray traced paradigm IMO.
        From a gameplay perspective it all seems a bit niche, but I'm sure there's someone out there with an idea that could make use of it. I just don't see FPS du jour picking it up any time soon.
        Having said that, ray tracing may be a good utility to use alongside rastering techniques for things like sub-surface scattering or ambient occlusion.

        .. Not sure that was entirely on-topic, but there's my tuppence on the near future adoption of ray tracing. Of course eventually everything will be done with unbiased rendering (basically just firing photons around and making them behave just like real photons would, see Maxwell Render [maxwellrender.com]. Currently, still extremely time consuming)
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by aarmenaa (712174) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:16PM (#23806107) Journal
          Actually, with your standard raster renderer, they're mostly cheating to make this stuff work. Yes, you can get away with it in very specific scenes, but it's really kinda annoying to have to count how many doorknobs the player can cram into their field of view at one time, to make sure performance doesn't drop to crap when they're suddenly staring at 10 doors instead of just one or two. What happens when you start running around a hotel? Whaddya know - none of the doorknobs reflect anything anymore! Why? Because PowerPoint isn't in the games section at your local BestBuy.

          Dynamic shadows are still optional in just about every game that features them. Why? Because only really fast, expensive cards can do it, and even that's stretching it. Some engines will only render dynamic shadows from one light, and the ones that do it for more than one have to be very careful about not placing too many light sources too close together. This will get better as games finally drop support for DirectX 8 fallback (DX8 is generally not able to do dynamic lights at all), but the other restrictions will likely remain for quite some time.

          There's a lot of shortcuts, hacks, and arbitrary map design rules to make this type of thing work. Even things that we're pretty good at these days like water are often more restricted than they seem. You know that nice water in Valve's Source engine? You can't have more than one body of that high-quality water on the screen at the same time, or you're liable to get "unexpected behavior." In other words, it doesn't work. This is specifically mentioned in some of the map making tutorials. So you'll find nowhere in a decently designed map where you can have two different pools with that nice high-quality, reflective, refractive water. You can use the "cheaper" water, though. The cheaper stuff still looks OK, but it's not the real deal and looks strange to see the two side by side. This is mostly an issue where the level of the water is different between two pools of water, such as having a diving pool next to a raised water tank or something. If they're the same height, you can just cheat and use one one body of water clipped through the intervening area for both both bodies of water. This only works, of course, in places where the area in between is unimportant - water floating in mid-air just might be an unexplainable phenomenon in the context of some story lines.

          The way I read this, raytracing makes solutions for these types of problems more universal (ie. you just have water, no BS about what kind of water it is and where it can be), and the performance hit for doing it several times in a scene is way less. I'm in no way involved with graphics engines, but I would assume that most of these features require rendering the scene multiple times with different deformations, and that raytracing is somehow faster at this.
          • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

            by ardor (673957) on Monday June 16, 2008 @04:03AM (#23807597)
            As a general rule, raytracing excels at secondary-ray tasks (= when one additional ray is shot originating from point of impact of the first, primary ray) like shadows, reflections, refractions, and the like, but doesn't pay off for primary-ray only tasks (solid wall, ground, ...) This is because rasterization is an optimization for the primary-ray-only case - you need local information only, no need to shoot rays for the entire surface, you can interpolate across it.

            Now, those doorknobs will make ... how much % of the visible frame? In typical game scenes, opaque surfaces are the majority. This is not because of hardware limitations, but simply because most game worlds are NOT full of shiny surfaces.

            A hybrid is the best approach. You correctly guessed that with rasterization, secondary-ray effects need to be calculated in multiple (and costly) passes. Moreover, since these passes usually render to a texture, you get aliasing issues because the texture pixels do not 1:1 match the screen pixels. You get blocky shadowmaps, blocky reflections, or noticeable noise when moving (in case the map is too large).
      • by grumbel (592662)

        Or maybe cursing at the newbie because he didn't pay attention to the position of a specific lamp and now your team is screwed because your shadows have been noticed.

        Not really exciting, MetalGear2 had that, SplinterCell had something like that and plenty of other games had similar stuff (Doom3, etc.). You don't need raytracing for that and in terms of gameplay it doesn't really add much, since most games simply are not slow enough that you care about little details like shadows.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:48PM (#23805251) Homepage
      I see two things here:

      1. It runs on 4 x quad core. Which is about just 4X the CPU power a normal user could have right now. A 4X speed improvement isn't probably that far away. They may be hoping to reach a point where a dedicated video card is no longer needed. With the required performance level being so near, adding some extra support to the CPU may be enough.

      2. Raytracing scales differently than methods currently used in games. With raytracing, increasing resolution is what adds the processing time, while adding detail is very cheap. Which I'm guessing means that as soon as you get raytracing going in real time at a decent resolution, adding extra quality is cheap. This would radically change the current situation, and possibly drastically bump the quality level.

      3. Raytracing implements effects like shadows and transparency in a straightforward manner, which should make it easier to code. Game developers should like that. Also, in my understanding, raytracing also doesn't need to decompose things like spheres into lots of triangles, so the engine can test a ray's collision with a sphere directly. If you can specify parts of a scene as objects like spheres, toruses and such, it'd result in much finer detail.

      What I think Intel is trying to do here to ATI/AMD and nVidia is the same thing fast CPUs did to soundcards. There's no longer a real need to have specialized hardware to play MIDI or add effects to sounds, since the CPU is quite capable of doing it itself. In fact, IIRC, Creative had to *blackmail* John Carmack into supporting EAX, because he could implement the same effects faster using the CPU.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:43PM (#23805585) Homepage

        It runs on 4 x quad core. Which is about just 4X the CPU power a normal user could have right now. A 4X speed improvement isn't probably that far away. They may be hoping to reach a point where a dedicated video card is no longer needed. With the required performance level being so near, adding some extra support to the CPU may be enough.
        The eventual goal is to use large numbers of minimal x86 cores, I think they can increase the performance for a specialized workload quite a bit.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        1. It runs on 4 x quad core. Which is about just 4X the CPU power a normal user could have right now. A 4X speed improvement isn't probably that far away. They may be hoping to reach a point where a dedicated video card is no longer needed. With the required performance level being so near, adding some extra support to the CPU may be enough.

        If everyone had a quad-core, which I doubt is "normal" now though I'll admit it's a standard desktop chip. And I usually play at 1920x1200, that's another 2.5x, plus 14-29 sounds too law to play comfortably, I'd add at least 2x there. So 4x*2.5x*2x = 20x away. Furthermore, while we're moving to faster processors it doesn't look like performance per watt improves that fast. According to Anandtech we can expect a 20-30% overall advantage over Penryn with a 10% increase in power usage, in other words maybe 15

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cheapy (809643)
      Well, in this case, there is no real story. ET:QW is a purely multiplayer game, unless you wanna play against only bots. It's quite playable too. (and runs on linux if you download something from id!)
    • and the DVD has been defiling its bloody corpse for nearly a decade now...

      why bother putting thought and work into actual gameplay and mechanics when we can just make the game prettier?

      sadly all too many gamers are locked into the "better graphics = better game" thinking as well which doesn't help the problem.
      • and the DVD has been defiling its bloody corpse for nearly a decade now...
        Maybe the streaming download will revive it?
    • I agree with you completely. That's why I made my own game. [singularityfps.com] I got tired of one well made WW2 or Quake style game after another, and decided to make the game I want to play. And I think you should, too.

      The graphics are definitely not first class, but on the other hand I think they're beautiful, because I made it to please me. And at least a few other people like it, too, which is nice.

      I'd still be glad to have an artist on board, though :-)

  • No Caps? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:23PM (#23805083)
    No screen captures, just pics taken with a camera? Um, Ok.
  • Huh (Score:5, Funny)

    by gadzook33 (740455) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:26PM (#23805109)
    With enemeies like that, who needs frames.
  • by lowlymarine (1172723) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:48PM (#23805247)
    Intel, you've done what only you can do! With $6,000 worth of top-of-the-line processors, you've almost duplicated the performance of a $60 RADEON 2400XT. Except with better reflections. Although even pixel-perfect reflections of crappy textures are, by definition, crappy textures. You're going to crush nVidia any day! I feel it, keep smack-talking!
    • not only that ati on board video is a lot better then the intel one + is can use side port ram.
    • by bigtangringo (800328) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:24PM (#23805473) Homepage
      I predict that you'll eat those words one day.
    • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:39PM (#23805563)
      It's just a first step. Give them some time and I'm sure they'll be producing much more impressive stuff. Though I don't really give a rats ass about the applications real time raytracing has for video games. I'm more interested in what it can do for 3D graphics and animation. As it stands now in 3D you have to render everything out to see what it looks like properly lit. It'd mainly be a workflow improvement, but it'd be a welcome one. It's extremely annoying and time consuming to render out a test image that can take 10 minutes just to see how everything looks. That would also cleave through final render times. As it stands now with most projects it can take weeks or even months to render everything out. In theory with this a single desktop computer could be on par with a render farm. Suddenly all those jerks over at CORE won't be so smug.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by urbanriot (924981)

      Intel, you've done what only you can do! With $6,000 worth of top-of-the-line processors, you've almost duplicated the performance of a $60 RADEON 2400XT.
      No they haven't. They're attempting to implement real-time ray tracing. A $60 video card can not do this.
    • No but here is the thing, it will run 3-D on Linux out of the box. Unlike that ATI card and nVidia, but at least the nVidia binary drivers will actually run and not cause Linux to panic...
  • Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saikou (211301) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:53PM (#23805281) Homepage
    I know it's all computationally intensive and impressive in that aspect, but pictures in the article don't really look much better than your average videogame. Same triangular shapes, ugly, clearly "rendered" landscapes.

    I wonder if anyone tried to do hardware acceleration with, say, splines or something other than triangles.
    • Re:Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:11PM (#23805385)
      I've always wanted a realtime graphics engine based on something like the POV-ray ray-tracer (or other procedural modeling [wikipedia.org]). The POV-ray syntax is all "exact". Rather than approximating shapes using subdivision into triangles, exact shapes are created by specifying things like "spheres" or "cylinder" or unions, intersections, and differences thereof. More complex objects can be specified by arbitrary mathematical equations, and complex sequences of operations (e.g. take a spline, sweep it along a path, intersect it with another shape, apply a certain matrix transform, ...). Having done some modeling both ways, I much prefer the "exactness" of procedural definitions, rather than approximation. (I inevitably wish I could go back and add resolution to a triangulation, but that isn't easy to do properly.)

      The neat thing is that the resulting objects (if properly defined) have "infinite" detail. The roughness on a surface, for instance, can be based on a noise function, so you can zoom into it without ever seeing triangulation or other artifacts.

      The obvious downside is that the computation here is intensive. Objects can be arbitrarily complicated. Calculating the intersection of a ray with a mathematically-defined surface involves very complex calculations. Rendering POV-ray scenes on modern hardware, for instance, can take minutes to days (depending on complexity).

      One upside is that the rendering can be tuned to available resources. On older hardware, the number of light-sources (or the intersection accuracy, etc.) can be reduced. This would mean that video game graphics would get arbitrarily "better and better" on newer hardware, without any need for someone to change the code. Having said all this... I think our hardware is not yet powerful enough to make this kind of thing practical. (There are some neat examples that have been coded, but as a general technique we're not there yet.)
      • I like POV-Ray for many of the same reasons; the syntax is very friendly and the available primitives give a lot of flexibility. Most of the fastest real-time ray tracers just support triangles, though, because it makes them simpler and you don't have the overhead of deciding which ray-intersection function to use with each primitive.

        I think a typical game developer isn't likely to care if they can make exact spheres and cones and such; the majority of real-life objects aren't perfect quadrics, and are m

      • The other obvious downside is that it is hard to model organic objects using such techniques. Ever tried to model a human face procedurally?

        All of the earliest 3D renderers (the stuff Lucas Arts developed for Star Wars, whatever they used for the Light Cycles in Tron) used combinations of geometrical primitives as models. They moved to tessellation because most of the things you want to model in movies and video games do not lend themselves to procedural definition very well.
      • by grumbel (592662)

        I've always wanted a realtime graphics engine based on something like the POV-ray ray-tracer

        CSG can work with a rasterizer, see for example Ensemblist [nongnu.org]. The problem with CSG however is that it just isn't very practical for game modeling, its nice for industrial work where you want to have exactness, but not for games where you want it pretty and want it fast. And of course CSG is rather useless when you want to model something organic like a human or a monster.

      • by Spikeles (972972)

        This would mean that video game graphics would get arbitrarily "better and better" on newer hardware, without any need for someone to change the code.

        A few games have already applied this idea. Quake 3(and i assume 4 as well as the quake3 derivatives) use Curved surfaces [gamasutra.com], Messiah [wikipedia.org] i believe used models that had millions of polygons, and the game engine automatically applied LOD when rendering them to keep a good FPS.

        Morrowind supports Continuous Tessellation and N-Patch [lanior.ru] rendering if you have an ATI card, and turn it on using tweaking tools.

        With newer and bigger storage there really is no reason NOT to ship with full resolution images and model defini

    • by Khyber (864651)
      Softy3D was a modeling program that used splines and spheres, nothign else.
    • by X_Bones (93097)
      I know it's all computationally intensive and impressive in that aspect, but pictures in the article don't really look much better than your average videogame. Same triangular shapes, ugly, clearly "rendered" landscapes.

      That's because the demo wasn't about finer geometry or higher-res textures or better bumpmaps. It was about the reflection and refraction bonuses you get with ray-tracing that you don't with rasterization, which won't really affect anything you were talking about.
  • by Skal Tura (595728)
    Most people don't understand the beauty of ray tracing .... oh wait a minute, most people are DUMB! that's right >;D

    Seeing these comments reflects very well the average human intellect about a subject before talking about it.

    Then what's so special in ray tracing versus rasterization?

    It's actual real world based mimickery. Ray tracing mimicks how real world works.

    Ask yourself would you prefer physics to correlate to real world physics, or something quickly around the corner which is something like that bu
    • by nuzak (959558)
      Psst. It's all tricks. That's not a real helicopter, and it'll never fly out of your screen. Value judgments on what's more "real" are just plain silly.
    • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:36PM (#23805541) Homepage

      Rasterization is JUST a cheap trick to make it look something like that, nothing else.
      Right, but it's really fast. It's faster than ray tracing is good.

      If you're waiting for humans to get rid of fast approximations when they're good enough, I hope you're patient.
    • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:38PM (#23805555)
      Ray tracing mimicks how real world works.

      Raytracing doesn't mimic how real world works. In fact it does exactly the opposite of what happens in real world. In real world you have bazillions of light particles, doubling also as waves, shoot out of many area light sources and bounce/be absorbed by objects around them.

      Whatever photons end up hitting your retina, is what you see.

      Raytracing instead shoots a ray out of your (virtual) retina straight forward to the scene and may refract/reflect off objects, until it's "absorbed" (means, hits a surface where refraction/reflection isn't calculated).

      Rendering a single frame of 3D as it is in the "real world" (with just a fraction of the rays) would mean days on even the fastest hardware out there.

      What raytracing gives you is sharp reflections, refractions and shadows, while introducing a bunch of other limitations on the rendering that rasterization doesn't have. It also can't do soft shadows, reflections, refractions, efficiently, nor subsurface scattering, or radiosity.

      Best models for rendering in the future will likely be hybrid models similar to what is now used in professional renderers by movie studios. But then again, it's a game, who cares about mathematicaly accurate reflections, when you can fake it close enough with reflection/refraction maps in a fraction of the processing time.
      • by blueg3 (192743) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:16PM (#23805753)
        For classical optics, modeling the scene in either direction (castings rays from lightsources and only counting ones that hit the viewer vs. casting rays from the viewer and only counting ones that hit lightsources) is valid.

        I assume you didn't mean for "efficiently" to be an item in your list, which is the way you wrote it, but raytracers can do all of those things. (I'll make no claims about efficiency.)

        "But then again, it's a game, who cares about mathematicaly accurate reflections, when you can fake it close enough with reflection/refraction maps in a fraction of the processing time."

        That argument is no more valid that if you say "it's just a game, why don't you just do raycasting, which takes a fraction of the processing time". "Faking it close enough" isn't close enough; it's obvious that you're faking it, and it requires that you either live with it or design your game to minimize the impact of faking it.
    • one - you're about to be deluged by haters. I've said these very things here and the haters are quite enthusiastic. They're also wrong.

      two - the other guys aren't standing still either. No doubt the other guys are looking into ray tracing now that the level of tech to support it is coming around.

      Raytracing, for the win.

    • That so many geeks need to get outside more. Oh wait, they do!

      Honestly it isn't like either ray-tracing or raster graphics will cure hunger or disease, so to me "close enough" is good enough. It's just entertainment after all.
  • by Quabbe (1308187) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:07PM (#23805367)
    The images clearly show that they are using simple colour mapping for the textures (especially the helicoptor). What I want to know is, can pixel shaders be used with ray tracing?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry, being an industry insider, I have to post as an anonymous coward here.

    There is no lighting, normal mapping, or material fidelity here. So this is a long way from being the quality of a final product, but it is a good demo and a start in the right direction.
    • by enoz (1181117)
      So in other words, Half Life 2 still looks better?

      That reminds me of the original Half Life 2 trailer (before the first game) that appeared to promise such things as realtime material reflections and refractions.
    • by DragonTHC (208439)
      agreed, what good is perfect water and glass if the textures are from 2002?
  • where's the video (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heroine (1220) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:47PM (#23805609) Homepage
    Where's the HD video of the enhanced visual effects in 1280x720 at 14-29 fps?
  • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @09:50PM (#23805629)
    Every time ray tracing technology is shown off, I can't help but marvel that the long held dream of games filled with reflective spheres can finally be enabled.
  • blur of the line (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you look at the crytek engine and how it calculates screen ambient occlusion, then you find there is a mix of ray tracing and raster technology. For instance, its suspected, they simulate a ray tracing but against the depth buffer in a fragment shader to get ambient occlusion.

    By the way, please don't publish pictures on t.v. sets. It hurts the eyes.

    Ultimately, ray tracing is going to win but not at 13 frames a second.

  • Minimum framerate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:54PM (#23805959) Homepage Journal
    Quoting min-max isn't what's needed, minimum is all that's required, my rig can, if looking directly at the ground, clock over 1000fps in some games, but that is of course a useless measure of the machine.

    Minimum usable framerate is around 35fps, if a fps drops under this, don't bother. Particularly don't bother if its going to cost 10 times the price for one tenth the framerate :P
  • Phillip Slusallek was demonstrating full screen real time raytracing using a custom RPU (raytrace processing unit) in 2005, and that unit was running at less than 100 MHz. For a fraction of the hardware cost of a quad quad core system, you could do real time raytracing with less hardware investment than a modern GPU.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rufus211 (221883)
      You know he's at Nvidia now:
      http://www.linkedin.com/in/slusallek [linkedin.com]
  • by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) * on Monday June 16, 2008 @02:23AM (#23807147) Homepage Journal
    pfft... and John Carmack said that they were going the wrong direction with ray tracing [slashdot.org]. Shows how much he knows. And they only pulled it off with 4 quadcore processors at 15 FPS. That'll show you! Maybe someone should tell Carmack to go back to developing new shades of black instead of dealing with the light! /sarcasm

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