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Nvidia Corp. unveiled at Siggraph conference the industry’s first interactive ray-tracing engine that utilizes graphics processing units (GPUs). The Optix engine is aimed at professional applications and is currently compatible with Nvidia’s Quadro FX professional graphics solutions. Potentially, this means that applications based on the engine will also have limited compatibility.

Nvidia Optix engine is a programmable ray tracing pipeline enabling software developers to easily bring new levels of realism to their applications using traditional C programming. According to the developer, the Optix engine greatly accelerates the ray tracing used across a spectrum of disciplines, including: photorealistic rendering, automotive styling, acoustical design, optics simulation, volume calculations and radiation research. Application developers may use the Optix engine to redefine what’s possible for designers, engineers and researchers.

At present ray tracing engines rely in central processing units and a lot of them are not intended to be interactive, but are tailored to provide the best possible image quality. Nvidia’s Optix is an interactive engine that uses GPUs, thus, may be potentially faster than competing ray tracing engines available today.

Currently Nvidia’s engine is only aimed at professional applications, not video games, hence, the company decided to limit compatibility of its Optix to Quadro FX GPUs. It remains to be seen whether developers of non-proprietary professional graphics software attempt to utilize proprietary ray tracing engine with limited hardware compatibility.

Nvidia Optix engine will be available in fall 2009.

Tags: Nvidia, Quadro, Geforce, GPGPU

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