Intel shows Wolfenstein ray-traced in the cloud


— 6:00 AM on September 14, 2010

We probably won't be seeing Intel-branded consumer graphics cards anytime soon, but apparently, Intel hasn't given up on the notion of using its many-core architecture to render games. It's just moved to a different battlefield. Sort of.

At IDF today, Intel's Daniel Pohl demonstrated a ray-traced version of the latest Wolfenstein game running on a four-server "cloud." The four servers, as it happens, were all based on Intel's Knights Ferry platform—think Larrabee re-tooled for high-performance computing applications.

The demo hit very playable frame rates at 1280x720, rendering a regular Wolfenstein map with some special models and effects designed to show off the potential of ray tracing in games. The eye candy included flawless reflections on very detailed models, particle effects, and a wall of in-game TVs showing different areas of the map.

While neat, the demo got a little choppy in places. I also can't help but find the full-bright look of ray-traced game levels unappealing, especially in the age of elaborate per-pixel lighting and shading with smooth shadows and subtle illumination. Tapping four servers to run a single game session also seems a tad impractical. It's not like Intel is the only one attempting cloud-based rendering—we got to see an arguably more compelling demonstration from another firm over a year ago.

   
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