Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Computer: new card from Caustic Graphics

So here is the quick version: Caustic Graphics develop a specific card(CausticOne), which tackle the real time rendering problem(data bandwidth to processor). Using a specific OpenGL extension(CausticGL), programmer can maximize CPU's in rendering images. You can find more details here

The owner of this company expect that in the future, real time ray tracing(RTRT) will be an everyday view in gaming.  Currently, game industry using rasterization-plus-hack methods such as shadow maps and precalculated light effect to make convincing graphics. Off course this method has weakness: user point of view is unpredictable. False shadows, textures or effects may occur. Using real time ray tracing, since everything is calculated 'correctly', there is 'no way' you can find false effect in graphic. Currently this method is impossible. Even the most expensive PC wont be able to perform this calculation (since PC has no dedicated CPU). 

Now here is the problem: replacing artist to draw shadow maps and let Caustic Graphic do the calculation might be a good idea, since it may cut cost (a lot). The problem is doing this requires lots and lots of commitment. Rasterization-plus-hack is currently a great escape from math and stuff and its not that 'inferior' to RTRT. Off course its nice to have a good graphic in gaming but honestly, how many players spend a few moments in the game to check false effect on the game graphic. Does it really matter to calculate lots of things that wont be noticed that much? Sometimes 'looks right' doesn't mean 'is right'.

Don't get me wrong, as a computer graphic programmer, I expect this thing to success in gaming industry(which means more jobs to me ;) ). But this industry has been very though to a dedicated card(remember Physx). I really am going to support this card but knowing what game they are going to fight, I think I wont stand behind their back this time ;) 

Good luck, guys at Caustic :)

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