AMD introduces new ray tracing technology

With 47 ray tracing products on the market, where will it fit in?

By Jon Peddie

Ray tracing (RT) is to CG as a Mars lander is to NASA—the ultimate goal, dream, and pursuit. At one time or another, almost every company that has ever had anything to do with computer graphics has either bought or developed a ray-tracing program. Some have even been so bold as to develop a dedicated accelerator chip for ray tracing (RT).

AMD’s Abe Wiley demonstrates new ray tracing technology at Siggraph. (Source: JPR)
AMD’s Abe Wiley demonstrates new ray tracing technology at Siggraph. (Source: JPR)

At Siggraph AMD gave a technology demo of a new ray tracer they developed in-house that runs on GPUs, a lot of GPUs—four FirePro 8100s. That’s 10,200 GPU stream processors with a combined memory of 32 GB of GDDR5 and a theoretical performance of 16.8 TFLOPS. That’s what it takes to produce an HD image of a Mercedes SL550 AMX in less than 5 seconds, that and 880 watts of wall power.

AMD doesn’t plan to make their RT program a standalone product like Nvidia’s Optix, or Mental Ray/Iray RT programs, or Imagination Technologies Brazil r/s, but rather hopes to license it to other firms. Since there are only 47 other ray tracer programs on the market, AMD should have no problem finding customers for this, admittedly very nice, software.

The designers really did a great job, and the UI is very friendly. However, as strange as this may seem, we have to assume AMD isn’t run by idiots, and we know they are being very careful about their R&D spending, so they wouldn’t go wasting precious time and money on something if they didn’t have some ROI forecast for it. Which means we got a peek at the future, and now we have to wait for AMD to announce who will be the lucky customer of this (did I mention how nice it is?) software.