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

Posted on Friday, June 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.

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