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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PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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January 12, 2013 | 06:28 PM - Posted by mAxius

ray tracing wont make the mainstream gaming market till amd/nv/intel decide to fully support it then game devs can take advantage of the hardware

January 13, 2013 | 02:55 AM - Posted by HM (not verified)

ray tracing is probably not going to happen soon (next 10 years) for gaming, if you think about it, we are now starting to look at 4K screens, we want 60+ FPS...
imagine how demanding it will be for ray tracing with comparable graphics to what we have now (with full game scenes, not just one object and simple background)....

but anyway, the card reminds me of the voodoo 5 5500, with the green PCB and small black coolers

February 25, 2013 | 12:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes...I Agrre with you bro. Thats like as Voodoo 5 5500 haha

January 13, 2013 | 12:30 PM - Posted by pio (not verified)

The current software that supports that is the CG's Visualizer and xNormal.

I'm pretty sure if it's something good we'll see more compatible software soon... but I have doubts if the 700$ card can be as good as two 7970 using an OpenCL raytracer or two 680 using Optix.

January 14, 2013 | 08:00 AM - Posted by gamerk2 (not verified)

While I don't expect to see Ray Tracing anytime soon, due to performance reasons, I would not be shocked if we start to see a move to Ray Casting. All the advanced graphical effects DX struggles with (light diffusion/refraction/reflection) are a natural consequence of any Ray Tracing algorithm, so the quality increase will eventually get devs moving in that direction.

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