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New Graphics Firm Promises Real-Time Ray Tracing

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the can-render-vaporware-in-no-time-flat dept.

Graphics 136

arcticstoat writes "A new graphics company called Caustic Graphics reckons it's uncovered the secret of real-time ray tracing with a chip that 'enables your CPU/GPU to shade with rasterization-like efficiency.' The new chip basically off-loads ray tracing calculations and then sends the data to your GPU and CPU, enabling your PC to shade a ray-traced scene much more quickly. Caustic's management team isn't afraid to rubbish the efforts of other graphics companies when it comes to ray tracing. 'Some technology vendors claim to have solved the accelerated ray tracing problem by using traditional algorithms along with GPU hardware,' says Caustic. However, the company adds that 'if you've ever seen them demo their solutions you'll notice that while results may be fast — the image quality is underwhelming, far below the quality that ray tracing is known for.' According to Caustic, this is because the advanced shading and lighting effects usually seen in ray-traced scenes, such as caustics and refraction, can't be accelerated on a standard GPU because it can't process incoherent rays in hardware. Conversely, Caustic claims that the CausticOne 'thrives in incoherent ray tracing situations: encouraging the use of multiple secondary rays per pixel.' The company is also introducing its own API, called CausticGL, which is based on OpenGL/GLSL, which will feature Caustic's unique ray tracing extensions."

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136 comments

cant wait. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187923)

wow i cant wait for this. assuming that it's easily fits into current hardware

Re:cant wait. (5, Funny)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188955)

I know! This is totally going to solve the problem of the utter lack of glass spheres and infinite checkerboards in today's games!

I know their secret! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187939)

They are performing the ray tracing one scanline at a time.

So so I: 26 pages. (-1, Troll)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188415)

Tom was able to stretch this worthless article to 26 pages by putting microscopic pictures on each page along with about a paragraph of text.

Tom is the new king of AdSense manipulation. I guess we can call it AdSenseless now.

Re:So so I: 26 pages. (2, Informative)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189145)

  1. This is not on Tom's Hardware.
  2. There is only one page and only one picture.

Nice try, though.

Re:So so I: 26 pages. (1)

ORBAT (1050226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189923)

I have no idea what you're smoking to make you think this was on Tom's Hardware and 26 pages long. Seems that the people who moderated you are stealing from your stash, though. Might want to keep a closer eye on your drugs.

Re:I know their secret! (4, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189055)

That's how just about all ray-tracers work. The problem is when you want to avoid aliasing effects. The easiest solution is to use multi-sampling, but having a nice square grid of primary rays per pixel still creates some aliasing effect. Randomizing the directions of these rays using a statistical distribution is one way of improving things. But then, at every reflection and refraction the secondary rays converge and diverge even further, so they will not all hit the same triangle/object/texture which causes all sorts of texture caching problems.

This company seems to have found a solution with their "incoherent ray" solution.

One step closer (3, Interesting)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188007)

Being a 3D artist (mostly just a modeler and texture artist, but sometimes a generalist), I'm happy to see work like this being done. It seems like only yesterday I was waiting hours or all night for simple ray traced scenes.

While it may be underwhelming to some, I'm more than happy to see people working on this kind of tech. Sure, we've moved on from just "simple" ray tracing to using things like GI, etc, but in time we'll have that in real time as well. Some apps are already doing some tricks to enable real time GI and other tricks. (the key word being tricks, since they're not totally physically accurate). Obviously real time will always lag behind, but I look forward to the future.

ray tracing - not just for chrome spheres anymore (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188309)

You mention that things have 'moved on' from ray tracing to GI - but keep in mind that most GI methods (and certainly QMC sampling) -are- largely based on ray tracing. When people say 'ray tracing', we're not just talking about chrome spheres or perfect glass..glasses. It's the fundamental concept of 'tracing a ray' in the scene - and that fundamental concept applies not just to direct surface (illumination) calculations and reflections/refractions, but also to fuzzy reflections/refractions, area-sampled shadows, area lighting, sky/dome lighting, global illumination, sub-surface scattering, photon mapping (the photon tracing stage, that is) and so forth and so on.

Re:ray tracing - not just for chrome spheres anymo (2, Insightful)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188393)

I'm fully aware of that. Notice I didn't say we've moved on from ray tracing to GI. I said we've moved on from "SIMPLE" ray tracing - the operative word being "simple". Perhaps I should have been more clear and said "we've moved on from just basic raytracing to more advanced and accurate methods of ray tracing", but I figured my point was clear enough.

Re:ray tracing - not just for chrome spheres anymo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188721)

What is "GI" referring to here?

Re:ray tracing - not just for chrome spheres anymo (3, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188815)

"Global Illumination"

It's a bit of a not-so-well-defined term, really, but within the context of current generation renderers, global illumination involves calculating not just direct lighting (i.e. a spot lighting a wall), but also diffuse indirect lighting (the light hitting the wall (dimly) illuminating the rest of the room) and even specular indirect lighting (such as caustics - like the light patterns you see in pools).

GI is already an inaccurate trick (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189309)

The more you optimise it, the more artifacts appear in your GI. In the end though, turning the detail all the way up only results in a high quality result, not realistic GI. Fortunately, it's something that doesn't need to look all that real to look good. It's worth recognising that there isn't really a 'realistic' renderer out there yet. Only convincing renderers.

Re:GI is already an inaccurate trick (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191321)

There's plenty of 'realistic' renderers out there. If you mean 'doing it exactly as mother nature does', then no.. But if you look at something like the Maxwell Renderer, where you specify surface properties according to actual physical characteristics, etc. and the renderer itself calculates only by brute force (to tricks to speed things up - which invariably cause accuracy errors), then you get pretty darn close to a 'realistic' renderer.

2009 (5, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188021)

2009 is the year of the ray traced desktop.

Re:2009 (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188083)

2009 is the year of the ray traced desktop.

Can't wait for the ray-traced BSD desktop version of Duke Nukem Invents The Flying Car.
     

Re:2009 (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188109)

Seems we've been waiting forever for Duke.

Re:2009 (3, Funny)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188543)

Seems we've been waiting forever for Duke.

I think in Soviet Russia, Duke Nukem waits for YOU!

Re:2009 (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189737)

Da comrade, the power of the meme is within you. Embrace it [pvponline.com] and, IN SOVIET RUSSIA, destiny meets YOU!

Re:2009 (2, Funny)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190227)

Ya, my bluescreen never looked so pretty!

Re:2009 (1)

Dylan2000 (592069) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191499)

finally!

Shitty summary! (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188029)

Stop copying and pasting the article to generate almost the entire summary, especially when you don't do it right. The However, the company adds that 'if you've ever seen them demo their solutions you'll notice that while results may be fast -- the image quality is underwhelming, far below the quality that ray tracing is known for.' makes it look like you're talking about the Image quality of Caustic's new solution, which is obviously wrong. Here's the real paragraph:

"Some technology vendors claim to have solved the accelerated ray tracing problem by using traditional algorithms along with GPU hardware," says Caustic, referring to companies such as Nvidia which recently demonstrated real-time ray tracing using CUDA . However, the company adds that "if you've ever seen them demo their solutions you'll notice that while results may be fast--the image quality is underwhelming, far below the quality that ray tracing is known for."

In other words, it was someone at Caustic talking about everyone else's solutions, the opposite of the implication of the summary!

Re:Shitty summary! (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188235)

Thanks. Your clarification actually caused me to rtfa. I figured if the summary was actually accurate, there was no point in the article, as it was likely just a bunch of slop. And while it may still have been a bunch of marketing slop after all, at least it was interesting. :)

Re:Shitty summary! (2, Insightful)

arcticstoat (993717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188291)

That's kind of my fault for submitting such a long summary in the first place - the original I submitted to the Firehose makes it clear what the quote is referring to, but that submission was obviously too long for a general summary. I take your point about copying and pasting, though - I'll be less lazy next time :)

Re:Shitty summary! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188395)

Perhaps, but it's mostly ScuttleMonkey's fault for posting such a misleading summary.

Re:Shitty summary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188905)

Indeed. Hang the mod! Then get strippers. In fact, screw the mod (metaphoricaly), then screw the strippers (litterally).

Re:Shitty summary! (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190607)

Why's a lightbulb better than a pregnant stripper? You can unscrew a lightbulb!

Re:Shitty summary! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189885)

Ironically, I failed to get my HTML correct, which suggests to me that I also remind you of the value of preview.

Re:Shitty summary! (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188787)

Not surprisingly, that text from the article is actually copied and pasted straight from Caustic's web site [caustic.com] . Granted, the text appears in the article in the context of a quote, but the way it is presented makes it sound like they actually spoke with a representative of the company.

Re:Shitty summary! (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190141)

For all the crap that Roland took, at least you were guranteed that the summary on /. was not just a copy and paste of the first paragraph of the article. The copy and past annoys me to no end.

"Caustic"? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188031)

Do they get their chips from Flammable Systems, and their capacitors from Toxic Components Inc?

Re:"Caustic"? (5, Informative)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188069)

I assume you're kidding, but for the uninitiated: Caustics also refers to light reflected and refracted by a curved object. Think the pattern of light cast by a glass on your desk, or thrown off by a ring sitting on a surface.

Re:"Caustic"? (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188101)

I assume you're kidding, but for the uninitiated: Caustics also refers to light reflected and refracted by a curved object. Think the pattern of light cast by a glass on your desk, or thrown off by a ring sitting on a surface.

Or the skewed image of a star caused by an imperfect telescope lens.
     

Re:"Caustic"? (1)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188121)

Wouldn't that fall under "light reflected and refracted by a curved object"? Isn't a telescope lens just that? Or is there something else going on I'm not aware of?

Re:"Caustic"? (2, Insightful)

flewp (458359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188193)

Er, I'm an idiot. I wasn't thinking, and realized just after hitting 'submit' you were just providing another example, apologies good sir.

Re:"Caustic"? (0, Offtopic)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188347)

Your sig dont cut it.... WWJDHH... etc.

Sheesh.

now im hungry

Re:"Caustic"? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188697)

If they ever put in images in the Acid3 test (I guess it'll be Acidx where x>3) that require ray-tracing like this, Caustic Graphics solutions will be neutralized. Yuk yuk.

Big deal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188037)

The Amiga did this twenty years ago.
Yes, in real time.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001073.html [codinghorror.com]

Re:Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188211)

Your own link refutes you. Fail.

Re:Big deal. (4, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188255)

Juggler was very impressive for the time, but it was "only" real time high-color-depth animation playback (although even the compression method used was probably impressive back then). It was not real-time raytracing. Yes, Amigas were famously one of the first computers that made raytracing possible for home (or even pro movie/TV) users back then, but I remember that rendering a simple raytraced scene (a couple of primitives) in apps like Imagine 3D would have to run for a few hours, if not overnight. That might have been on an Amiga 1200, rather than my older 500, too.

Re:Big deal. (1)

AlienRancher (734517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189813)

About 1.5 hours per frame for relatively simple floating torus plus glass ball + checkerboard + infinite plane + lights and such on a stock Amiga 500. But compare what a regular PC of the time could do.

Re:Big deal. (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191033)

But compare what a regular PC of the time could do.

Yeah, I hear some people still collect pocket watches ;)

Re:Big deal. (2, Informative)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188271)

Yeah. _Not_ in real time. I admit the article is confusing, but that Amiga anim was not done in real time.

The rendered images were encoded in the Amiga's HAM display mode and then assembled into a single data file using a lossless delta compression scheme similar to the method that would later be adopted as the standard in the Amiga's ANIM file format.

Surely they could have chosen a better name. (1, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188043)

"Caustic" Graphics? Would you want to do business with a video company that names itself after a chemical that damages your eyes?

Re:Surely they could have chosen a better name. (0, Troll)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188167)

"Caustic" Graphics? Would you want to do business with a video company that names itself after a chemical that damages your eyes?

Microsoft's non-macho name never hurt it.....unfortunately.
           

Re:Surely they could have chosen a better name. (1)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188629)

Microsoft's non-macho name never hurt it.....unfortunately.

But Microsoft was really popular among men!

Re:Surely they could have chosen a better name. (4, Informative)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188181)

Caustics are light reflected and/or refracted by curved surfaces. The pattern of light lines on the bottom of a pool is one of the more common types of caustic. The company chose a graphics term. The graphics people chose a term that has another, more understood meaning.

Names that require explanation aren't good choices (3, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189599)

Thanks for the explanation. However, names that require explanation are not good choices for the names of companies.

I remember when I first saw a very poorly drawn, shaky image of an animal and read that it was a Gnu, and read how clever the name was considered to be since it was, they said, "recursive": GNU is Not Unix.

It didn't bother the enthusiasts that most people in the world can't pronounce the name and have never seen a Gnu.

They found someone with artistic ability to make a better image of a GNU [pasteris.it] , but I've seen no evidence that anyone with technical knowledge realizes the depth of the self-defeat in choosing an obscure reference to an obscure animal.

To most people the word "caustic" means only "capable of burning, corroding, or dissolving".

Re:Names that require explanation aren't good choi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27190345)

Sorry -- next time we'll dumb it down for you.

Re:Names that require explanation aren't good choi (1)

beguyld (732494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190459)

For a foundation that might ever want to reach the general (computer using) public, taking feedback about their image losing anyone but a certified geek might be valuable...

Re:Names that require explanation aren't good choi (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191255)

To most people the word "caustic" means only "capable of burning, corroding, or dissolving".

And most people aren't their target audience.

They're selling to people who do know what caustics are. And in their minds caustics means "Too slow to use in an animation."

Non-technical managers often make final decisions. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191333)

Those who make the final decisions to buy a lot of very expensive video cards are unlikely to know that unusual meaning of "caustic".

Re:Surely they could have chosen a better name. (0, Offtopic)

Chiisu (462604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188571)

Maybe it renders TubGirl quickly (and anything faster than never is too fast...)

I'll believe it when I see it! (4, Insightful)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188095)

They've advertised Linux support too, but I haven't heard anything from these guys. Unless they're like nVidia and sit around killing kittens all day, it would be a good idea for them to actually do some research and figure out how GLX and DRI work. Even the ATI closed-source drivers still respect the GLX way of life.

(nVidia replaces the entire DRI stack. DDX, GLX, DRI, DRM, all custom. fglrx doesn't replace GLX. Just in case you were wondering.)

A post I made elsewhere on the subject (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188361)

Like with anything, I call vaporware until they show real silicon. Not because I think they are lying, most companies don't. However there are plenty of overly ambitious companies out there. They think they have figured out some amazing way to leap ahead and get funding to start work... only to realize it's way harder than they believed.

A great example was the Elbrus E2K chip. Dunno if you remember that, it was back in 2000. A Russian group said they were going to make the Next Big Thing(tm) in processors. It'd kick the crap out of Intel. Well obviously this didn't come to pass. The reason wasn't that they were scammers, in fact Elbrus is a line of supercomputers made in Russia. The problem was they didn't know what they were doing with regards to this chip.

Their idea was more or less to put their Elbrus 3 supercomputer on to a chip... Ok fine but the things that you can do on that scale, don't always work on on the microscale. There are all sorts of new considerations. So while their thing was all nice in theory on a simulator, it was impossible to fab.

Intel and AMD aren't amazing because of the chips they design, they are amazing because they can then actually fab those chips economically. You can design something that'll smoke a Core i7 in simulations. However you probably can't make it a real chip.

This smells of the same sort of thing to me. Notice that they have press releases and some shiny demo pictures, but it was clearly done on a software simulator. Ok well shit, I can raytrace pretty pictures. That doesn't prove anything. Their card? Apparently not real yet, the picture of it is, well, just a raytrace.

So who knows? Maybe they really do have some amazing shit in the pipeline. Doesn't matter though, they've gotta make it real before it matters. nVidia releases pretty pictures too. Difference is the pictures of the cards are of actual cards, and the pictures rendered are done on the actual hardware.

I am just never impressed by sites heavy on the press releases and marketing, and light on the technical details, SDKs, engineering hardware pics, and so on.

one 'real silicon', coming up (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188541)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qtq27J_rQ [youtube.com]

( no, not a realdoll advert - it's a vid of their current test card being twirled around in a human's hands. then again, maybe they raytraced that )

Re:A post I made elsewhere on the subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188809)

You need to read up on your news. They demonstrated real hardware last year (outperforming a similarly clocked Pentium), and are building machines for internal consumers (mil/gov).

Re:A post I made elsewhere on the subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188875)

video of real silicon from last year (in russian)
http://www.cnews.ru/news/top/index.shtml?2008/07/07/307585

Re:A post I made elsewhere on the subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188829)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qtq27J_rQ
still not running but at least is silicon ware the question is does it actually do anything?

Re:I'll believe it when I see it! (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188381)

Your sig was quite funny after your post. :)

Re:I'll believe it when I see it! (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188659)

Yes well, and which approach is the one that actually works?
nVidia's drivers have done their job for me, ATI's.. not so much.

Sure, theoretically, it's better to stick with the given architecture like ATI's drivers do. I get that. But what good does it do for anyone if it hardly works?
I'd rather replace half of X.org with nVidia's code if it means I get to use all my card's features.
Isn't enabling vendors to do that actually one of the things open source advocates keep preaching about?

Re:I'll believe it when I see it! (1, Troll)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190237)

But what good does it do for anyone if it hardly works?

What's broken about it?

nVidia's drivers have done their job for me...

ATi has *NEVER* had good drivers. They fucking suck at writing drivers. They always have, and -if trends continue- always will.
nVidia's rewrite of the majority of X.org graphics bits fails 'cause it's an ongoing *massive* duplication of effort. When the x.org folks put bugfixes or enhancements in to some component that nVidia has duplicated in their driver, everyone who depends on nVidia's software has to wait and see if nVidia will be arsed to fix their code. When everyone but nVidia decides to stop using a feature and move on to something different, nVidia's kinda stuck with all that effort that they put into a now-deprecated way of doing things.

I'd rather replace half of X.org with nVidia's code...

I suppose this means you don't care about the future of X.org? I understand that nVidia's policy is to *NEVER* help out open source. So, what they're doing makes perfect sense from that standpoint. However, it *never* makes long term sense for an open-source project to depend on closed-source binaries which provide a significant portion of the project's functionality. [1] You can't have a healthy project in this sort of scenario.

But, I digress. I assume that you don't give a flying fuck about the health of any of the projects behind the system that you use. You just want your system to work right now. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

[1] Wifi firmware is a whole other kettle of worms.

nVidia sits around killing kittens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189645)

Quote: "Unless they're like nVidia and sit around killing kittens all day..."

Just wondering: I am certainly aware of what I consider to be nVidia's lack of complete honesty. I would like to know why you aren't feeling positive toward nVidia.

Re:nVidia sits around killing kittens? (2, Funny)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190675)

He obviously likes kittens.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it! (1)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190147)

Yep, sounds like every other Linux project to me.

Announce something cool
Ask the community to donate time
Sit back and watch Linux users bitch about no release.

Something's not right (1)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188169)

Larrabee has a dedicated z-buffer module, there was no place for bringing it up in the article...Plus, much research has already been done in this are which the article didn't cover. Here's an example: Toward a Multicore Architecture for Real-time Ray-tracing [wisc.edu] -- this architecture benefits from secondary rays by equipping each tile with a shared L2 cache and exploiting locality
Also, 20% increase isn't much....really. With software simulators of new architecture, something between 10-20% increase in speed is within the margin of error.

20 percent? try 20 times (3, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188345)

You must have misread the article... it reads "20x", not "20%".

I.e. a 1900% increase. Or however one would put that. 20 times faster.. much easier. Still within the margin of error? :)

( also per the article, they're actually pondering 200x faster down the line. )

Re:20 percent? try 20 times (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188399)

So if a quadcore with current gpu hardware runs at something around 16fps or so that would put us at 35fps, right about the absolute minimum of playability.

Re:20 percent? try 20 times (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189235)

Umm... last time I checked, 19*16=304, not 35.

Re:20 percent? try 20 times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27190161)

20x 16fps = 320fps, not 35.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how you came up with the 35.

Re:20 percent? try 20 times (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191245)

20x 16fps = 320fps, not 35.

20x performance + 16fps - 1 frame == 35 fps?

Maybe?

Re:20 percent? try 20 times (1)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188471)

You must have misread the article... it reads "20x", not "20%".

Yep, you're right :)

No GPU caustics and refractions?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188203)

I wonder if anyone has told these guys [uiowa.edu] .... Or these guys [ucf.edu] ?

Frist stOp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188307)

Unanswered questions (3, Insightful)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188369)

The article sounds like a press release, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
  • What sort of performance should we expect?
  • What are the limits on scene complexity?
  • Can their product handle dynamic scenes?
  • Is the process of sorting a collection of triangles into an acceleration structure done in software, or in hardware?
  • Do they support photon mapping, metropolis light transport, radiosity, path tracing, or any other global illumination algorithm?
  • How does the performance compare with high-performance software renderers like Arauna (open source) or OpenRT (closed source)?
  • How does the image quality compare with high-quality renderers like pbrt (open source)?
  • What geometric primitives are supported?
  • What sort of textures are supported?
  • What algorithms do they use? MLRTA? Packet tracing?
  • Do they use a Kd-tree, a BIH tree, BVH, or something else entirely?

I shall remain skeptical until more information is forthcoming.

Re:Unanswered questions (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188465)

performance: 20x speed-up ("from what" is unanswered at this time) to 200x speed-up down the line
limits: limited more by your machine than the card
dynamic scenes: it's an accelerator - if the renderer can, then it still can with this card
sorting (accelerations structure building, I think you mean?): wouldn't know but seeing as it's supposed to accelerate the ray tracing process, I would imagine it's either on the card or via their own algorithms in software
photon mapping/MLT/etc.: it's an accelerator. If the method traces rays, then the card can accelerate it. This applies to most of the methods you mention.
performance comparison: should be coming up later - but presumably much better than software-only methods and better than GPU-assisted methods
image quality: it's an accelerator - image quality would depend mostly on the renderer that invokes the card, not the card itself.
geometric primitives: I believe they had at least a sphere thing going on.. presumably, again, that means that other mathematically-defined surfaces could be calculated 'as is' as well. If not, cast them to a mesh - doesn't hurt that much.
textures: n/a
algorithms: their own
acceleration structure: probably a closely guarded secret

if you want actual answers, try...
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=59&t=739494 [cgsociety.org]
and
http://twitter.com/causticgraphics [twitter.com]

Re:Unanswered questions (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189591)

I hate to burst your academic bubble, but MLT has approximately zero use to any production-quality renderer.

MLT (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189869)

I only mentioned it for the sake of completeness. I've never tried implementing it myself for my own projects, and don't plan to. However, I understand that it converges faster than photon mapping for some scenes lit by light sources that are mostly occluded, like light from underneath the crack of a door. In the photon mapping scenario, few of the photons would contribute to the final image.

Movie studios and the like may not care about this, as they can just manually position their lights so this isn't an issue. If MLT isn't used much in industry, though, that may be in large part because, unlike photon mapping, MLT is patented.

Re:MLT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27190809)

Nah... not quite.

a) MLT is NOT patented.

b) The main reason it is not being used is probably because it just is not a very good image synthesis algorithm. Except for a few rare scene configurations, like the ones Veach & Guibas showed off in their SIGGRAPH paper. For all "normal" scenes, it is highly inefficient.

Re:Unanswered questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191491)

lolwut?

It's used all the time for visualization work, where accuracy is far more important than speed. It's useless for animation, I'll give you that.

Re:Unanswered questions (2, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191203)

You're asking a couple of incorrect questions.

This isn't a renderer. This is a render accellerator.

The idea is that Brazil, Mental Ray, Vray and FR can use this to accellerate the existing renderers without any sacrifice of quality or features.

Think of it like SSE3. It's a new instruction set you can use to accellerate your software. It's not a hardware renderer. It's a hardware ray tracer. The distinction is subtle but in important in this case.

It should also be noted that Splutterfish (the makers of Brazil. One of the top 4 raytracers on the planet and argueably the fastest.) has been aquired by Caustic. http://splutterfish.com/ [splutterfish.com]

my guess based on prior art (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188773)

Sounds like a plain old accuracy vs. time trade off. For a pixel in a given frame they choose some reflected/refracted rays to follow. They add noise or dither to their ray selection process so over time a pixel will converge to a nearly correct value. Moving items won't get an exact solution right away but they're moving so the viewer won't notice that the shadow isn't quite dark enough immediately or something in the mirror got a little jaggy for 3 frames.

In most games, the viewer moves more than objects do, so they'll have some work to do to avoid smearing everything in an RPS or run-around-real-fast thingy.

Osborne (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188939)

The CausticOne is due to be released in April 2009, and Caustic claims that it will speed up the ray tracing process by an average of 20x. However, the company is making wilder claims about its second-generation Caustic product, due to be released early next year, which it says will offer âoe200x the speed over today's state-of-the-art graphics products.â

I think someone needs to read about the Osborne.

Is it an artificial distinction? (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188961)

At some point (not too far away), the average size of a polygon in a scene will drop to one pixel or smaller. It seems like the different rendering techniques will merge together... a bit like the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces merged.

Re:Is it an artificial distinction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27190517)

Also, the way to think about rendering is not as a polygon-drawing problem. Rendering is first and foremost an illumination problem.

All else fails.

Re:Is it an artificial distinction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191113)

It;s called point splatting...

No video, no pictures. It smells like hoax. (3, Insightful)

master_p (608214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189017)

For something as ambitious as they have, it's very strange that their web site has no demos, absolutely nothing, of their products. No pictures, no videos, nothing.

Re:No video, no pictures. It smells like hoax. (2, Funny)

citizenr (871508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190571)

they are the next BitBoys
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitBoys_Oy [wikipedia.org]
zero product, some IP, waiting to get wads of money and run away with it

So DNF is released soon? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189033)

Finally, 3DRealms can release DNF...it will only work with Caustic graphics cards, but it will have the absolutely bestest graphics this side of a Phantom console.

Re:So DNF is released soon? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190461)

Running HURD, of course.

Re:So DNF is released soon? (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190795)

Ray-traced strippers? Kinky!

Patent (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189251)

They say it's patent pending, but I can't find the patent application on the USPTO site. Anyone have better luck? I'm just curious how the hell they deal with the incoherency of secondary rays.

Re:Patent (1)

electrostatic (1185487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189477)

from the uspto.gov FAQ
"Most patent applications filed on or after November 29, 2000, will be published 18 months after the filing date of the application.... Otherwise, all patent applications are maintained in the strictest confidence until the patent is issued or the application is published."
This means the application is not available to anyone during that period (unless the application is issued earlier and thus becomes public).

I try and point this out every time (1)

moogord (904702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190079)

I would just like to point out, Ray tracing is not some holy grail of perfection, far from it. Indeed buck for buck, rasterisation provides the same or higher image quality for a much lower cost.

Now obviously there are instances where raytracing helps, reflections and refractions can be generated on a per-pixel bases rather than rendering the reflection/refraction as a separate image and stretching/squishing said images in order to produce a similar effect. But saying this, if you render these separate images at a high enough quality you will get the same detail as a raytraced image, and still at a much lower cost than raytracing.
Ray tracing also does not help with shadows; For example, soft shadows. To raytrace a soft shadow you have to send out at least 16 rays per shadow calculation, for each light and even then your gonna suffer from nasty artefacts. Compared to the raster solution which involves rendering the zbuffer of any given light source and merely doing some blurring. same quality, much reduced cost.

I just wish that instead of investing so much time and effort into raytracing solutions people would instead apply the hardware that's generating these raytracing engines to a raster solution, if you took a conservative estimate of raster being 10x than raytracing for any given operation, then we are talking a huge leap forward in quality, a much larger leap than ray-traced reflections/refractions would give us.

Re:I try and point this out every time (2, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190561)

To raytrace a soft shadow you have to send out at least 16 rays per shadow calculation, for each light and even then your gonna suffer from nasty artefacts. Compared to the raster solution which involves rendering the zbuffer of any given light source and merely doing some blurring. same quality, much reduced cost.

It seems to me that the algorithmic complexity grows just as fast for both rendering techniques in the case of many lightsources. Both are accomplished in steps linear to the number of lights.

Its all well and good that rasterization is "fast" for what we use it for today. But, its growth is linear to the number of primitives while there are other methods that are sublinear. For a large enough number of primitives the sublinear algorithm must be superior in performance.

Re:I try and point this out every time (1)

Dubbie99 (1024375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191009)

The raster version of your shadow example is going to look horrible in comparison to the raytraced version. Close to the shadow casting object, the shadow should be sharper than far away. With raster you get an ugly uniformly blurred shadow no matter what the distance is.

Re:I try and point this out every time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191477)

Precisely. Dynamic soft shadows in today's games look weird and unrealistic. If raytracing can fix that, then I'm all in favour of people trying.

Redundant? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190539)

Doesn't OpenGL 3 support real time raytracing already if you feed it enough hardware? Or did that not materialize in the final spec?

Join the... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190605)

...massive list of failed graphics companies trying to do something novel in the last 10 years...

Seriously, can anyone name a single company that has made inroads into the nVidia/ATI duopoly? I can probably name a half dozen who have tried...

Never trust a company that ... (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191433)

Never trust a company that puts its name into just about each of its products. That is just lame, and there is no reason the product should not turn out to be just as lame. With attitude like that, there seems to be a lot of immature pride in that startup. They have probably hit gold in some calculations/algorithm and rushed to announce it will change the world. The truth is probably much more modest - they do have some technology or IP to offer, but it will require a lot of effort and hard work to make a difference, and in light of that this is just another company that believes in miracles. Google did that, but the PageRank thing had a lot to offer when it was introduced. I don't think it is the same kind of case.

And yes, I am serious.

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