Enlarge pictureIntel is trying to make it clear to us that it is working on a way to improve today's graphics, thus to offer a visual experience better than competitors like AMD or NVIDIA can achieve. With all the news that has kept popping up regarding Intelâ€™s Larrabee chip, we can only hope that the product will literally change the way we perceive computer graphics.
As part of a continuous effort in trying to improve computer graphics, Intel has recently declared, through its CTO, that it is working on a new graphics architecture, one that is more in line with its multicore processor roadmap. Speaking at an annual gathering of Intel researchers, Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, said that raster graphics pipeline, used by AMD and NVIDIA, should become history, in favor of a new and better way to render graphics using ray tracing.
"We believe a new graphics architecture will deliver vastly better visual experiences because it will fundamentally break the barrier between today's raster-based pipelines and the best visual algorithms," said Rattner. "Our long term vision is to move beyond raster graphics which will make today's GPU technology outmoded," he added.
As compared to rasterization, which breaks a scene into many tiny polygons, and then draws and colors in each shape to give the scene lighting and texture effects, ray tracing is considered to be a better method for next-generation graphics. Ray tracing is a computational intensive method of drawing images based on following rays of light and their collisions with objects.
Although Larrabee's x86 cores will be able to handle ray tracing jobs, the chip is expected to also support current graphics rendering models for APIs, including OpenGL and Microsoft's DirectX. Nevertheless, we will have to wait until late 2009 for the first Larrabee chip to become available. When released, the Larrabee will push Intel among the discrete graphics chip manufacturers, an industry where NVIDIA is currently in the lead.