Intel's Xe-based discrete graphics cards are promised to come next year, and one of the included features will be ray tracing support. According to a Phoronix (opens in new tab)report this week, (opens in new tab) Intel is currently working on ray tracing driver development for the Xe HPG discrete gaming graphics cards.
Jason Ekstrand, as the lead developer of the new Linux and Vulkan-based ray tracing driver, has already posted the initial code to get ray tracing functioning in Intel's Xe GPUs. At the moment, there isn't enough code in the driver to get ray tracing functioning properly. However, Intel has already approved some of his code, and more of it is on its way to getting approved.
Intel will be using the latest Khronos ray tracing specification for its driver. Simply put, Khronos is responsible for creating open-source ray-tracing extensions for the Vulkan API and is constantly updating the API with more efficient, diverse and reliable ray-tracing solutions. The big advantage of using Khronos' extensions is that it's all open source, allowing more people to work on the project since they don't have to be associated with a specific company. Plus, it's generally cheaper.
Intel plans to keep using Khronos' open-source ray tracing extensions as much as possible. However, they might look at implementing Nvidia's in-house extensions if they find more and more games using Nvidia compared to Khronos' open-source solution.
Intel plans to push hard in developing its ray-tracing driver and wants to have it finished before the Xe HPG graphics cards are ready for production in 2021 and being their battle for the title of best graphics cards.