CES 2013: Caustic, now part of Imagination, Shows Series2 Ray Tracing Accelerators

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2013 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: series2, ray tracing, imagination, ces 2013, CES, caustic

We have talked with Caustic on several occassions over the past couple of years about their desire to build a ray tracing accelerator.  Back in April of 2009 we first met with Caustic, learning who they were and what the goals of the company were; we saw early models of the CausticOne and CausticTwo and a demonstration of the capabilities of the hardware and software model. 

While at CES this year we found the group at a new place - the Imagination Technologies booth - having been acquired since we last talked.  Now named the Caustic Series2 OpenRL accelerator boards, we are looking at fully integrated ASICs rather than demonstration FPGAs. 

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This is the Caustic 2500 and it will retail for $1495 and includes a pair of the RT2 chips and 16GB of memory.  One of the benefits of the Caustic technology is that while you need a lot of memory, you do not need expensive, fast memory like GDDR5 used in today's graphics cards.  By utilizing DDR2 memory Imagination is able to put a whopping 16GB on the 2500 model.

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A key benefit of the Caustic ray tracing accelerators comes with the simply software integration.  You can see above that a AutoDesk Maya 2013 is utilizing the Caustic Visualizer as a simple viewport into the project just as you would use with any other RT or preview rendering technique.  The viewport software is also available for 3ds max. 

There is a lower cost version of the hardware, the Caustic 2100, that uses a single chip and has half the memory for a $795 price tag.  They are shipping this month and we are interested to see how quickly, and how eager developers are, to utilize this technology.

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