Expect Ray Traced Games in 2-3 Years, Says Intel

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Games using hardware-intensive ray tracing technology could appear in the next two to three years, according to PC component maker Intel.

"I dare say that in two to three years time we will see something [using ray tracing from game developers]," Intel engineering manager Michael Vollmer told PCGH.

Ray tracing calculates how light interacts with objects, including proper reflections and shadows. The results are often described as photo-realistic (see example above), with the process used create computer-generated effects in films and television shows.

Intel had previously demonstrated a version of Raven Software's Quake 4 that utilized ray traced graphics, which some criticized for not showing a marked improvement. However, Vollmer noted that "a complete demo, which contains the graphical aspect, too, is likely to look different."

"Ray tracing [for games] is still in an early stage," he stressed, noting that though it has "all the basic features already, like shadow cast, surface reflections," the transition to a new technology is often slow and laborious.