Think your dual-GPU GTX 295 videocard is anything to write home about? It's still the king of desktop videocards, but it does't come anywhere close to offering 800 teraflops of processing power. That's the amount a Japanese company has to work with, which has mashed together nine 73-core chips into a single system. And as daunting as that may sound, it fits inside a typical ATX desktop setup.
Before anyone asks, the answer is 'no,' it won't run Crysis. Not because it can't, but because it's not aimed at gaming. Those 800 TFLOPs of number crunching provide real-time ray traced rendering and is being aimed at automotive design.
As for how the 45nm super GPU works, Arstechnia has put together a fantastic article describing all the gritty details, includng the complex bus directing all that traffic.
Give it a glance here, then hit the jump and tell us what you'd like to use this kind of GPU computing power for (Folding, anyone?).
In today’s world of gaming hardware, ray tracing is the epitome of gaming graphics. Sadly, rendering them is difficult for current hardware due to their extremely random nature. Caustic Graphics is fixing that issue, all thanks to their graphics co-processor, the Ray Tracing Processing Unit (RTPU).
The RTPU works alongside current 3D graphics processors to bring rays at frame rates acceptable for interactive applications. While the offered 3-5 frames per second works for these applications, it’s nowhere near what gamers require. Thankfully, they claim that their second generation of hardware, out sometime next year, will be able to deliver 14 times that frame rate.
Be sure to check out a video of the tracing in action here.
3DFX changed the gaming landscape forever when it brought 3D graphics to the masses, and in a similar fashion, ray tracing technology looks to be the next big revolution on the horizon. The promise of photo realistic scenery has provoked both developers and gamers, but is real-time ray tracing in games anywhere close to being a reality?
In an interview with Tom's Hardware, Intel's Daniel Pohl talked about the API Intel is using to showcase ray tracing demos and what he thinks needs to happen before the technology will be ready for commercial development.
"Creating higher image quality even faster. That requires smart anti-aliasing algorithms, a level of detail mechanism without switching artifacts, particle systems that also work in reflections, a fast soft shadowing algorithm, adoption to upcoming hardware architectures. We have some topics to keep us busy," said Pohl.
In the case of ray tracing, it's a matter of the hardware needing to catch up with the software. Pohl and his team of ray tracing researchers have been "targeting future architectures that consists out of tens, hundreds, and even thousands of cores," noting an almost linear scaling of frame rates with the number of processor cores.
Intel isn't the only one looking to push ray tracing technology into the mainstream, with Nvidia putting on demonstrations of its own. Here's hoping the race to the finish line ends up resembling more of a sprint than a marathon.
Nvidia’s secret war with Intel has evolved into a full scale arms race for the atomic bomb of graphics technology, ray tracing. Using its forum at SIGGRAPH, Nvidia was able to demonstrate an interactive ray tracing simulation using four of the company's next-generation Quadro GPUs. They were set in a Quadro Plex 2100 D4 Visual Computing System with an estimated street price of around $11,000. Not exactly your standard gaming rig, but it gets the point across. Either way, it appears as though Nvidia is finally taking a cue from Intel and is focusing at least some of its effort on developing hardware capable of making this technique a reality for everyday users. The demonstration featured linear scaling of an anti aliased Bugatti Veyron with over two-million polygons. It was run at a resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) and chugged along at an impressive 30 FPS. The demonstration also featured image-based lighting paint shaders, reflections / refractions, and ray traced shadows. Industry insiders noted that the demo was an impressive undertaking since it was one of the first interactive demonstrations done using a GPU. Intel has demonstrated ray tracing using Quake 3 but was done using CPU power.Larrabee will be Intel’s counter in the consumer market, but it remains to be seen if the CPU style design will be as capable of pushing out polygons as Nvidia’s offerings.Gamers are no doubt hoping the new race to master ray tracing will accelerate its development, but I have a feeling we will be playing Duke Nukem Forever long before we see consumer based ray tracing solutions from either company. Though the important first steps are now well underway.
The shiny, new hatchback you nudge in a street race dents slightly on the driver’s side door. Although you’re playing a PC game, created with beaucoup equations, the bend looks almost real. The 3D renderer sculpts all those numbers into images, with help from the video API (application program interface). However, several completely different rendering techniques can be the source of those images. Currently, the hardware and software industries are debating how to best utilize two graphics-rendering techniques: ray tracing and rasterization.
Hit the jump to see how 3D game rendering is changing with hardware advancements.