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Caustic Promises 200x Boost in Raytracing by 2010

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 38 comments

Caustic Graphics, a small startup out of San Francisco, is promising exponentially faster raytracing as early as next year. Founded by a group of former Apple engineers, the new company is touting its CausticOne graphics accelerator card as the solution to the sluggish raytracing techniques currently available.

For years, the rendering option of choice for the gaming industry has been rasterization. Raytracing is a wholly different approach, which holds promise for more realistic graphics. The trade off with raytracing is that it requires much more processing muscle than rasterization.

Intel has been one company behind raytracing, but its demos are completely reliant on the current CPU/GPU setup. The tech giant's position on raytracing is that its CPUs can handle raytracing while also handling other general purpose duties. Caustic says its CausticOne card can give a 20x speed boost to raytracing, and "uses a host of new raytracing technology and algorithms to off-load raytracing calculations and prepare data for your GPU/CPU." By the end of 2010, the company claims that number will be up to 200x.

On the software side of things, CausticGL is a new API based on OpenGL that includes raytracing extensions, allowing for such techniques to be readily available to game designers.

While Caustic will be ready with its hardware and software sometime next year, the question is will the masses be ready for such an add-in card? In order for the tech to catch on, it will need adoption by both consumers and most game developers (or at least the big ones). Plus, with high end gaming PCs already costing an arm and a leg, the addition of a $xxx Caustic card may not be seen as a prudent investment by some. PhysX tried the add-in card approach for game physics, but the technology never caught on until the company was bought by Nvidia and the technology was integrated in the company's graphics cards.

While raytracing gives games a fresh look, and is indeed promising, rasterization is by no means looking old. Sure, Quake 4 may look good with raytracing, but it may take another couple of years for the technology to catch on.

Discuss
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  • 2 Hide
    horendus , March 11, 2009 1:03 AM
    With any luck this will take the same path as Physx...and be bought out by a graphics card maker, to have the API be implemented into graphic cards.

    or even better, have parts of the e card integrated into a GPU
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2009 1:07 AM
    Watch this space, ray tracing is on its way, this may not be the definitive product, but its a starting point and one which is very welcomed.

    As all our components get faster we step closer to the power unleashed by ray tracing and the level of detail and realism it can provide in many applications from image manipulation to movie production and gaming especially :) 
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2009 1:07 AM
    Watch this space, ray tracing is on its way, this may not be the definitive product, but its a starting point and one which is very welcomed.

    As all our components get faster we step closer to the power unleashed by ray tracing and the level of detail and realism it can provide in many applications from image manipulation to movie production and gaming especially :) 
  • 2 Hide
    KyleSTL , March 11, 2009 2:35 AM
    "Apple Engineers"

    Would you buy a Dell-design GPU? Or a Microsoft-developed CPU?
    As far as computer hardware is concerned Apple engineering seems like kind of a joke. All that Apple does for computers is make an OS to load into existing equipment made by hardware companies (Intel, nVidia, etc). Apple doesn't even manufacture the iPod, that's at least assembled by HP, and I wouldn't be surprized if they designed the hardware too, and Apple just made a pretty mobile OS to run the device.
  • 0 Hide
    srbruno , March 11, 2009 3:19 AM
    Crack open any Apple case and have a look at apple's engineers. You think software guys came up with the macbook air? Apple designs everything they make, but yes you are sorta correct, they don't manufacture it.

  • -6 Hide
    curnel_D , March 11, 2009 4:51 AM
    KyleSTL"Apple Engineers"Would you buy a Dell-design GPU? Or a Microsoft-developed CPU?As far as computer hardware is concerned Apple engineering seems like kind of a joke. All that Apple does for computers is make an OS to load into existing equipment made by hardware companies (Intel, nVidia, etc). Apple doesn't even manufacture the iPod, that's at least assembled by HP, and I wouldn't be surprized if they designed the hardware too, and Apple just made a pretty mobile OS to run the device.

    You need to read a little more. Your entire post is a waste of time.
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , March 11, 2009 5:01 AM
    Help me guys, Ray-tracing is another form of processing graphics, but the quality is what, better then the conventional? but requires so much more processing power? Is there really a huge diff between the two? because the vids i've seen it just shows reflections which is already being done on the conventional.. i'm not sure what to see here
  • -1 Hide
    ViPr , March 11, 2009 7:26 AM
    i'm willing to bet this will be like a repetition of the Physx story.
  • 2 Hide
    evilshuriken , March 11, 2009 7:27 AM
    Sacre,
    ray tracing generates very realistic lighting. Rendering techniques such as global illumination, final gathering, sub surface scattering, caustics, all are products of ray tracing.
  • 0 Hide
    scarpa , March 11, 2009 9:14 AM
    Sounds interesting
  • -3 Hide
    scarpa , March 11, 2009 9:17 AM
    Sounds interesting, games haven't improved much in graphics since Mafia the game(2002), they're all just too flashy but nothing improved really, hope this raytracing technology will really improve game graphics.
  • 0 Hide
    Dmerc , March 11, 2009 9:23 AM
    I remember reading about a ray tracing board years ago designed by a US univerisity. I think it was running at 90 MHZ. Wonder what happened to that?

  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , March 11, 2009 10:23 AM
    I work with ray tracing quite a bit, doing it real time would be quite a feat, even though there was that Quake 4 demo with Ray Tracing.
    curnel_dYou need to read a little more. Your entire post is a waste of time.

    I disagree.
    Quote:
    Caustic Graphics, a small startup out of San Francisco, is promising exponentially faster raytracing as early as next year. Founded by a group of former Apple engineers

  • 0 Hide
    Dmerc , March 11, 2009 10:33 AM
    At what resolution would the Ray tracing be real time? What is a real time fps , 24, 30 60?
    If 2 cards were placed in a pc would it be twice as fast?
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , March 11, 2009 10:50 AM
    DmercAt what resolution would the Ray tracing be real time? What is a real time fps , 24, 30 60?If 2 cards were placed in a pc would it be twice as fast?

    That's a silly question, it would all depend machine. Intel had a machine that was running Quake 4 using real time raytracing.

    This is a good example of the effects of raytracing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKqZKXwop5E
  • 0 Hide
    techguy911 , March 11, 2009 11:10 AM
    sacreHelp me guys, Ray-tracing is another form of processing graphics, but the quality is what, better then the conventional? but requires so much more processing power? Is there really a huge diff between the two? because the vids i've seen it just shows reflections which is already being done on the conventional.. i'm not sure what to see here


    raytraced:

    http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=121&t=654983

    not raytraced:

    http://www.wiinewsdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/tomb-raider-anniversary-artwork.png

  • 0 Hide
    tenor77 , March 11, 2009 12:25 PM
    I agree that raytracing is the future, but it's important to note that the above rendering is not real time. I'm sure we will see this adopted and slowly implemented but don't expect to see it in the PS4 or the Xbox 720 or the Nintendo Pii. Maybe in 2 generations.

    I remember back in elementry school hearing about this....20 years ago and I was astounded that it wasn't a real picture. Sucks it's taken this long.
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , March 11, 2009 12:38 PM
    tenor77I agree that raytracing is the future, but it's important to note that the above rendering is not real time. I'm sure we will see this adopted and slowly implemented but don't expect to see it in the PS4 or the Xbox 720 or the Nintendo Pii. Maybe in 2 generations.


    I'll bet money we'll see it next generation. The PS3 can already do real time ray tracing.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLte5f34ya8&feature=related

    This video is a bit of overkill, as the model is extremely high poly ("75x more complex then those used in today's games" according to the description) and they're 4x multi-sampling the image.

    Intel already has a system that can do real time raytracing aswell:
    http://www.tgdaily.com/html_tmp/content-view-37925-113.html
  • -1 Hide
    techguy911 , March 11, 2009 12:43 PM
  • 0 Hide
    tenor77 , March 11, 2009 12:48 PM
    I'm not saying it can't be done as they're demonstrating it is, but while the potential is there, the rt rendering is not visually impressive right now even if the technology is. I just think the adoption will be slow. First you need the hardware, and then the games to support it. It will come but I'm guessing integration will take longer than 2010.

    Just being realistic.
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