DirectX to get ray tracing support?

— 12:48 PM on March 9, 2007

In a presentation at the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft has revealed details about its future plans for DirectX. According to a report by Beyond3D, plans for the very next version of the API and specification—DirectX 10.1—aren't all that exciting:

The first topic covered is DirectX 10.1 which, as previously thought, seems like a minor and logical evolution of DirectX 10.0; the new features include per-[multiple render target] blending modes, better [multi-sampling antialiasing] control, Cube map arrays, more VS input/output attributes, and improved precision requirements. All in all, nothing revolutionary, but perhaps still some goodies very useful in specific scenarios. And while there's nothing really new there (except the 'center' interpolation mode for micropolygons?), it's nice to know some features such as programmable MSAA sample positions have made the cut.
Beyond that, however, things get a little more interesting. Microsoft says it plans to integrate general-purpose GPU-friendly features like double-precision arithmetic and improved memory access into future DirectX versions. The company also mentions dynamic global illumination and ray tracing in its list of future image quality improvements. Intel called ray tracing "the future for games" at its Fall IDF last year, so it's interesting to see Microsoft riding the same bandwagon. Microsoft's entire GDF presentation can be downloaded here for more details.
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