Ray tracing is yesterday’s news. All the cool kids or at least all the kids who can build a desktop PC that costs as much as a used economy sedan are talking about path tracing now. This more advanced method of light and reflection rendering is the hot topic of the graphics industry, and Intel wants to make sure you know it’s on trend. To that end, the company has published a blog post highlighting its contributions via several new industrial papers and an instruction course on the latest in graphics tech.
If that sounds dry, industrial, and academic, well, it is. Unless you’re actively working on new graphical models with industrial-level support, you probably won’t get much out of the pos. Intel has created some new ways to boost the efficiency of real-time path tracing, which is cool, but not something that’s going to turn the GPU world on its head. The juicy bit is in the middle of the word salad:
During this talk, titled Path Tracing a Trillion Triangles, we demonstrate that with efficient algorithms, real-time path tracing requires a much less powerful GPU, and can be practical even on mid-range and integrated GPUs in the future.
Intel is betting big on AI-based neural graphics calculations for compression because you can’t make a press release (spotted by PCGamer) in 2023 without putting “AI” in there somewhere. But its results are impressive nonetheless, claiming up to 95 percent compression versus standard path tracing methods. In layman’s terms, that means it really could deliver stunning in-game lighting on a fraction of the hardware power necessary to achieve the same results today.
Intel has been making some impressive strides in its Xe integrated graphics and Arc discrete GPUs (more in terms of value for the latter, admittedly) and it has stated repeatedly that it’s in the GPU market for the long haul against AMD and Nvidia. This humble little blog post could offer us some insight into what they’re working on for the second generation of Arc cards, expected in 2024: path tracing capabilities on a shoestring budget.