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Ray Tracing with a Caustic Co-Processor

Real Time Ray Tracing coming to a game near you
By: Sean Kalinich | CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs News | Posted: Apr 20, 2009 5:41 pm

We have talked about Caustic Graphics and their Ray-Tracing Co-Processor but have never really been able to get into a deep details. PCPerspective has finally been able to get inside the hardware to find out what is up.


According to their review of the technology behind this new offering, the CausticOne, Ray Tracing in real time is well on its way. They note that it is not actually here yet, but it is certainly in the near future.


The problem is that the randomness of rays in most interactive games is too much for hardware to process. Even the CausticOne is only capable of producing about 4-5 FPS worth of Rays but the next generation should increase that by 14 times.


Read more here.


Ray Tracing with a Caustic Co-Processor
The processors themselves on this iteration of the card are simply FPGAs (field programmable gate array) running at 100 MHz; FPGAs are often used in the development stages of new hardware in order to emulate silicon before it is manufactured. The CausticOne is basically a temporary product to send to developers to prove that the technology is not "vaporware" and to provide a point of reference for performance expectations.


The CausticTwo, the card that will be offered for sale to end-users, will use a custom designed ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that offers a 350 MHz clock speed with 4x the logic of the CausticOne thus equating to a 14x throughput over the first generation card we saw demoed last month. The card will continue to be a single slot design powered solely by the PCI Express bus, though the new card will require a PCI Express x16 slot for additional bandwidth. The hardware change will apparently be completely transparent to the developers using the CausticOne; performance of their applications will basically increase fourteen fold. As of my meeting, the plan was to have custom ASIC cards available in "early 2010."


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