Intel made some interesting disclosures at the FMX conference currently underway in Stuttgart, Germany, which focuses on advanced animation, film effects, games, and other types of immersive media. At the conference, James Jeffers, Intel’s Senior Principal Engineer and Senior Director of Advanced Rendering and Visualization, held a workshop during which he announced that Intel’s Xe architecture roadmap includes support for hardware accelerated ray tracing, among a couple of other graphics and rendering-related news.
There is some nuance to the ray tracing tid-bit, however. A blog post covering much of what Jeffers discussed during the workshop is live on Intel’s IT Peer Network site. In the post, Jeffers says, “I’m pleased to share today that the Intel Xe architecture roadmap for data center optimized rendering includes ray tracing hardware acceleration support for the Intel Rendering Framework family of API’s and libraries.” Intel works closely with many studios and design houses, which currently leverage Xeon Scalable processors (and GPUs, of course) to create rich content. Jeffers goes on to explain that users of Intel’s open source Rendering Framework products will be able to seamlessly map ray tracing workloads and get “exponential performance benefits”, once Xe-based accelerators ship, presumably sometime in 2020.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, please note that Intel makes no mention of DXR acceleration of consumer ray tracing workloads in games. Specifically, Intel has announced that the Xe architecture roadmap for data center optimized rendering includes ray tracing hardware acceleration support for the Intel Rendering Framework family of APIs and libraries. That said, if there is dedicated hardware in Xe-based GPUs for accelerating ray tracing workloads, they will likely be leveraged in consumer-class products as well – Intel just isn’t ready to talk about that just yet.
In addition to the ray tracing news, Intel has also announced that it is establishing the Intel Graphics and Visualization Institutes of XeLLENCE (Intel GVI) and that it has selected three founding institutions – the University of Utah, the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Stuttgart. These institutions were selected to participate based on their current, related research and open source contributions to the Intel Rendering Framework, and large scale graphics and visualization technologies.
To build in the Intel Rendering Framework, the company also announced the introduction of the Intel Open Volume Kernel Library to enhance support for volume rendering, which is a key capability for scientific visualization and high-end digital content creation. The Intel Open Volume Kernel Library is due to arrive in Q3 of this year.