And then Intel’s little report on raytracing hopped across my desk like a little white rabbit with a pocketwatch, and I followed it right down into the rabbit hole. There it was, a parallel world that connected a lot of dots, some of which hadn’t even been drawn yet.
As some of you already know, the idea of real-time raytracing has always been one of my pet-peeves for the industry. The concept is easy – rather than trying to approximate every single pixel’s light value through myriad pipelines and shaders, you trace rays of light from eye to source using one physics calculation. This calculation takes lots into account based on what the light hits, but it is just one calculation that is repeated millions and millions of times per frame.
So how long until all this could start pushing out of the theoretical and into the real? Well, Intel says that we’re looking at needing about 450 million raysegs per second before we get ‘interesting.’ And since a single-core P4 at 3.2Ghz was capable of 100m raysegs/sec, that means we’re looking at….