Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Another step toward realtime raytracing

Just finished reading a Tech Report review of the new GeForce3 graphics card from NVIDIA. Of particular interest to me was this page, which has some terminally spiffy screenshots (larger versions are available by clicking the page's thumbnail images) of a demo program NVIDIA released that showcases some of the GF3's capabilities. Worry not about the language of the article; it's in fluent technoid, with a depth and specificity that I find hard to parse, and I've been following this tech for a few years now. Focus on the pictures to see my point.

The subject of these pics is a chameleon, and when perusing the screenshots remember that each of them was rendered for real-time display, i.e. in less than 1/30th of a second. Those who have any experience with 3D videogaming know what sort of quality is usually reserved for the 30-frames-per-second treatment.

The caveat here (TANSTAAFL) is that the demo is a program optimized to display this exact scene, and tuned to pretty much max out the card it's designed for. Detail like this won't be in games for a while yet (and we won't exactly be seeing Shrek or its ilk rendered in the time required to watch it anytime soon), but the fact that this sort of visual detail is possible, even seen through a very specific and highly optimized "window" like this demo, is very exciting to me.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a great time to be a geek. :-)


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