AMD Radeon HD 4800 cards support 100% ray-traced pipeline

Posted on Friday, Jun 27 2008 @ 23:02 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
TG Daily learned AMD's graphics card support a 100% real-time ray-traced pipeline since the arrival of the ATI R600 (2900 XT):
JulesWorld will be releasing OTOY and LightScape, two distinctive technologies that could shape the future of movie and games production. The company developed a ray-tracer that uses elements of the DirectX 9 API as well as its own high-level code that uses Tessellation and anti-aliasing algorithms. Urbach told us that ray-tracing in real time became a reality with the Radeon 2900XT – which was used for a series of trailers for last summer's hit-move Transformers.

All those Transformers teaser trailers were rendered on a GPU and - more importantly - directed in real-time. The producer of these trailers had complete freedom to play around with a "virtual lens" and direct the trailer in his own way. The Radeon 3800 series brought some improvements and Urbach promises new demonstrations for this year’s Siggraph conference, including a complete Ruby demo (see a previous video here.)

In terms of performance, the Radeon 2900XT 1GB rendered Transformers scenes in 20-30 frames per second, in 720p resolution and no Anti-Aliasing. With the Radeon 3870, the test scene jumped to 60 fps, with a drop to 20 fps when the proprietary Anti-Aliasing algorithm was applied. Urbach mentioned that the Radeon 4870 hits the same 60 fps – and stays at that level with Anti-Aliasing (a ray-tracer is not expecting more than 60 fps.) JulesWorld’s technology also works on Nvidia GeForce 8800 cards and above, but the lack of a tessellation unit causes a bit more work on the ray-tracer side.

In future, Urbach expects to see 1080p, 4K and higher resolutions being rendered in real time.
JulesWorld claims photo-realistic scenes could be achieved by the end of the year:
So, what about photo-realism of these scenes? Unlike the general “3-5 years” answer you are hearing in the industry right now, he believes that this goal could be achieved by the end of the year. A ray-tracer is limited by the amount of local memory on your video card, so if you are able to get a Radeon 4850 or 4870 with 1 GB or even more of on-board memory, you have very capable hardware. JulesWorld’s LightStage technology can take wireframes consisting of an insane 32 million vectors to enable real world characters and their expressions. That means: Extra memory on your graphics card doesn’t hurt.
More info and some photos at TG Daily.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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