New evidence for hardware-accelerated ray tracing support in Intel Xe GPUs comes to light
There have been speculations about Intel planning to incorporate hardware-accelerated ray tracing capabilities in the upcoming Xe GPUs. Although Intel quickly clarified that ray tracing is on the roadmap for Xe GPUs for datacenter, it did not explicitly confirm the presence or absence of ray tracing features in client offerings.
The latest evidence for ray tracing support in Intel GPUs comes via @_rogame, who seems to have unearthed evidence about DXR ray tracing support in what looks to be driver code for the Intel GPU. The driver points to cues such as Ray Trace HW Accelerator, DXR_RAYTRACING_INSTANCE_DESC, and D3D12_RAYTRACING_GEOMETRY_FLAGS indicating that we may see some semblance of ray tracing capability in Intel's GPU. The source for this code could be from the recent Xe Software Development Vehicle (SDV) that is currently being shipped to ISVs worldwide. With the SDV set to reach out to more hands in the coming months, we may get to see some further information about this and other features.
That being said, Intel is not new to the concept of using ray tracing in a GPU. In a keynote presentation (see video below) at the 2009 Intel Developer Forum, Intel did show off a ray tracing demo using the ill-fated Larrabee GPGPU. It is very well possible that Intel is bringing some of those learnings to Xe.
Xe for client devices is expected to be available in 'low-power (LP)' and 'high-power (HP)' variants. It is likely that Intel would add support for ray tracing at least in the HP variants of Xe at least with a future driver update, if not at launch.