One of the developers working on Intel's Larrabee discrete graphics processor project has made an interesting revelation in a long message to the folks at PC Perspective. Whereas Intel has played up ray tracing as a superior alternative to current raster-based rendering techniques for games, the developer says Larrabee was designed for rasterization first and foremost. His message states plainly:
Raytracing on Larrabee is a fascinating research project, it's an exciting new way of thinking about rendering scenes, just like splatting or voxels or any number of neat ideas, but it is absolutely not the focus of Larrabee's primary rendering capabilities, and never has been - not even for a moment.
That assertion corroborates what Intel's Pat Gelsinger stated during a press briefing last month. According to Gelsinger, Larrabee will be fully compatible with current DirectX and OpenGL application programming interfaces.
In short, while some developers and industry players seem to be expecting Larrabee to be a ray tracing accelerator with backwards-compatibility support for current rendering technologies, they may end up with a GPU designed from the beginning to beat AMD and Nvidia products at their own game. As a reminder, Intel plans to first demo Larrabee in action this year and follow with a launch in either 2009 or 2010.
Check out PC Perspective's article for the Intel insider's detailed comments about Larrabee's development and how ray tracing fits into Intel's scheme.