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September 13, 2010

Intel Demos Real-Time Ray Tracing with Knights Ferry

Michael Feldman

If you thought the demise of Intel’s Larrabee graphics processor offering would be the end of the chip maker’s high-end gaming aspirations, you might have guessed wrong. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, the company is demoing real-time ray tracing for games using Larrabee successor, Knights Ferry.

In the demo setup, they’re using four servers equipped with the Knights Ferry processor to render Raven Software’s Castle Wolfenstein game, which was rejiggered to do ray tracing in real time. The four servers are connected to a laptop client, where the actual game is displayed.

Knights Ferry, aka the Many Integrated Core accelerator, is the software development platform the emerged from Intel’s abandoned Larrabee product for the discrete graphics market, and has now been repositioned as a high-end parallel processor for HPC. The 1.2 GHz chip is made up of 32 cores, each of which can support up to four threads. The prototype card hooks into a PCIe 2.0 slot and has 2 GB of GDDR5 memory.

The demo shows a variety of compute-intensive effects, including light reflections and refractions, all being rendered in real time and streamed to the laptop. The images are being generated at 40 to more than 80 frames per second, at a resolution of 1280 by 720.

Whether this marks the return of Intel’s interest in the high-end gaming arena, or is just a way for the company to showcase the performance of the Knights Ferry hardware, remains to be seen. Either way, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder to NVIDIA and AMD that there is more than one way to deliver cutting-edge visualization.

Full story at THINQ