Word from sunny Santa Clara-based NVIDIA Corp, is that the graphics giant has moved in on an acquisition of Utah-based RayScale, a 10 year-old start-up and productization of development work from few key people at the University of Utah. RayScale currently has a product available for Autodesk Maya, dubbed LightNow. Lightnow apparently offers interactive feedback with physically-based raytracing techniques, in combination with high quality batch rendering. One of the advantages of physical-based rendering is that it automatically calculates raytraced shadowing from all available light sources.
Raytraced image - courtesy RayScale
Rayscale is currently in the beta phase of their first product release with support for the following features:
Lambert, Phong, PhongE, Blinn, and Anisotropic materials
Fully responsive ray traced rendering window that updates to changes in the Maya model's geometry or materials
Integration with Maya Rendering window
Simple ray tracing
This new acquisition, from NVIDIA's perspective, certainly underscores the importance of raytracing technology in conjunction with standard rasterization techniques. Previously NVIDIA was a bit cool on the topic of raytracing, with some NVIDIA execs pointing out its shortcomings in rendering speed, referring to it only as complementary in certain scenarios. Today however, it seems that raytracing has indeed moved more squarely in to NVIDIA's radar scope, perhaps to assist in the battle on their own turf that Intel is promising to wage with a vengeance in the months ahead.