Intel shows Larrabee doing real-time ray tracing


— 11:30 AM on September 23, 2009

AMD's latest effort at a high-end graphics processor looks quite formidable, and we're all looking forward to Nvidia's answer. A third contestant will enter the ring next year, though: Intel's Larrabee. For the first time, yesterday, Intel publicly demonstrated its upcoming discrete GPU in action. A video of the demo has now been posted:

That demo involved a modified version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars ray-traced in real time on the Larrabee "software development vehicle," which included early Larrabee silicon and the upcoming six-core, 32-nm Gulftown processor. Intel didn't show much action—just water rippling and small objects moving on the screen at a low but seemingly playable frame rate.

While the demo was rolling, Senior Research Scientist Bill Mark boasted about Larrabee's fully programmable rendering pipeline, noting that the ray-traced water ripples were written using only 10 lines of shader code. (The ray-tracing renderer was coded in C++, not an existing graphics API like DirectX or OpenGL.)

Intel didn't discuss a precise release time frame, but last we heard, Larrabee was due to ship early next year. Initial implementations of the silicon will be "discrete performance graphics" products.

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