Intel converts ET: Quake Wars to ray-tracing

Posted by Theo Valich

Mountain View (CA) – Up until yesterday, Intel was showcasing its ray-tracing research using Quake 3 and Quake 4, which were nice demos, but did not exactly reflect fresh software. Over past several months, the company has been working one converting Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and  we have to admit that the results are quite impressive.

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Intel demonstrated ET: Quake Wars running in basic HD (720p) resolution, which is, according to our knowledge, the first time the company was able to render the game using a standard video resolution, instead of 1024 x 1024 or 512 x 512 pixels. Seeing ETQW running in 14-29 frames per second in 1280x720 has brought up our hopes for Intel's CPU architecture, since we do not believe that CPUs would deliver a similar performance when rasterizing graphics. For the record, the demonstration ran on a 16-core (4 socket, 4 core) Tigerton system running at 2.93 GHz.

The game itself was vastly expanded when compared to original title. Intel’s Daniel Pohl showed how the engine now shoots three million rays in all directions, enabling collision detection based on rays alone.

Also, during the conversion, some effects were integrated by default, even if they had not been planned. One of those effects was fog shadow on the floor and physically-correct refractions of water. If you ever dived into a swimming pool or sea and looked up, you could have seen that the world is distorted. Now, ET: Quake Wars has the very same effect.

An impressive part of demonstration was looking at glass surfaces. Glass now reflects the environment to the tiniest detail - no LOD trickery here. Seeing a 200-window portal was quite an impressive demonstration of a situation when you are shooting rays into the environment. Check out our gallery to get more detail on this demo.

The icing on the cake was that the game was actually demonstrated running on a 64-bit Linux operating system. Intel stated that with ray-tracing, the company now supports 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Linux and Windows operating systems. We'll see what will happen with Mac OS X support, but that should be on the cards as well.