Saturday, October 30, 2010

In-depth interview with Jules Urbach about OTOY

An anonymous reader of my blog, called RC, (yes, there are actually people who read my blog ;-) pointed me to this very interesting interview with Jules Urbach conducted by Research 2.0:
Many thanks for this, RC!

Some very interesting excerpts from the interview:
We can run 48 first person shooters at 60 fps on a single 1U server through ORBX. That is with legacy games that have not been optimized for our service (i.e. games that we run out of the box, without any modifications). When developers target our platform (through tools such as our raytracing pipeline), concurrent usage gets closer to 100 users per GPU. That is before you factor in local rendering power offloaded on the client.

The greater efficiency for rendering games in the cloud when using ray tracing could be the killer argument to start using ray tracing instead of rasterization (besides the simplicity of the code and the greater realism)!

OTOY's patnership with AMD, Nvidia and Intel:
SW: OTOY has been working closely with AMD. What are the major advantages of AMD’s technology relative to Nvidia and Intel?

JU: We were very deliberate in choosing to go down this path with AMD. We tested early versions of ORBX on Nvidia GPUs, x86 CPUs, and AMD GPUs. We settled on CAL as our core development platform (CAL is AMD‟s low level computing language). It was very challenging to program a GPU using CAL, which is not officially supported by AMD. But we were seeing amazing speeds which we could not replicate on other architectures.

As our company has evolved, so have our relationships with other major hardware vendors. This year, we‟ve added Intel and Nvidia as partners. More will follow. We announced Intel this summer. Obviously, we need CPUs on our servers as well as GPUs. And, in that respect, Intel has a very compelling offering. Intel is also developing hardware cards made from densely packed x86 cores which we may use in the future.

We are officially announcing our partnership with Nvidia in a few weeks. We have been working with them on a version of ORBX that will be deployed on Nvidia hardware in 2011. This is not trivial, given that ORBX‟s speed has, up until now, come from functionality that is specific to AMD hardware. But, from a practical perspective, we would be ignoring a significant portion of the professional graphics market if we didn‟t support CUDA applications. Adobe Photoshop, CS5, and countless other apps only support CUDA.

and about unbiased rendering:
Just as I see rendering moving towards an unbiased model that becomes as simple as photography, I can imagine high performance computing and software development becoming equally democratized.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What happened to all the great graphics blogs?

I'm talking about farrarfocus (Timothy Farrar), repiblog, level of detail, enter the singularity, too many pixels... no more updates in ages. Did Twitter kill blogging? Or is interesting graphics development just slowing down? I think it's the former :( On the other hand, Carmack uses Twitter to chat about his graphics endeavours, so all is not bad.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

OTOY and path tracing for games in the cloud UPDATE: video presentation!

Here's a link to Jules Urbach's presentation about OTOY at GTC 2010:

Some interesting stuff in there:

- "Games/Apps –100% in the cloud by 2014" !!! this doesn't sound too far-fetched considering the success of OnLive and the growing interest from major game publishers and developers in the cloud platform.

- "High level web services enable path-tracing and LightStage rendering in any 3D engine"

- "Crytek engine on Facebook"

Real-time path tracing and GPU cloud servers, it's a match made in heaven (or in the cloud actually) .

UPDATE: Found a link to the full video presentation from Jules Urbach at GTC in HD + there's also a Q&A session afterwards:

Notice Jules talking about unbiased rendering at 04:26 and path tracing at around 08:20!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Minecraft path traced in real-time with Brigade!

Very nice work again from Bikker and co. A level from Minecraft, the current hype in indie games, that is path traced in near real-time using the Brigade path tracer! Enjoy:

The path traced lighting does look completely different from the lighting in the original Minecraft game, which isn't bad but not nearly as realistic.

UPDATE: here's another video with much improved importance sampling:

This new video shows that even with the current hardware, there is still a lot of potential left to reduce noise and improve the image quality of real-time path traced graphics through better algorithms (importance sampling, maybe ERPT or something similar to MLT) and filtering methods.