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New evidence for hardware-accelerated ray tracing support in Intel Xe GPUs comes to light

Intel GPUs may feature native ray tracing capabilities. (Image Source: Guru3D)
Intel GPUs may feature native ray tracing capabilities. (Image Source: Guru3D)
Fresh evidence for hardware-accelerated ray tracing in what is purported to be Intel GPU driver code has surfaced. The driver references several ray tracing features of the DXR API. Although speculation about ray tracing support in Intel Xe is not new, the company did not officially confirm any of those rumors but only indicated that ray tracing is on the roadmap for datacenter Xe GPUs.

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.

(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
(Source: @_rogame on Twitter)
 
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 01 > New evidence for hardware-accelerated ray tracing support in Intel Xe GPUs comes to light
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-01-25 (Update: 2020-01-25)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.