Computer Graphics Rendering Breakthrough: 200 times faster Ray Tracing for 2010

Caustic Graphics Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.) is a startup company that claims to have made a breakthrough in the hardware acceleration of ray-traced graphics. Caustic claims a 20 times speedup for better graphics algorithms hardcoded into silicon now and 200 times faster for next generation in 2010.

Caustic said it’s first-generation technology will deliver an average 20-fold increase in the speed used to create 3-D imagery for film and video, game development, as well as automotive and consumer product design. The second generation of Caustic’s technology, due early in 2010, is expected to gain an additional order of magnitude in performance, offering a 200 times speed-up over current graphics products.

The performance increase is allowed by ray-tracing algorithms implemented in a semiconductor design. Caustic’s forthcoming CausticRT platform enables highly parallel CPUs and GPUs to massively-accelerate raytracing.

Super Graphics Processing Will Go Well With New Super High Resolution Video Cameras
Massively higher graphics processing power will go well with the new high resolution Red digital cameras.

The original RED ONE, anchor of the RED Digital Cinema Camera Co., is a 4K camera, meaning that the horizontal resolution of the sensor is over 4000 pixels. EPIC S35 is a 5K camera, providing over 5000 horizontal pixels, EPIC FF35 is a 6K camera, providing 6000 horizontal pixels, EPIC 645 is a 9K camera that provides over 9000 horizontal pixels and the phenomenal EPIC 617, a 28K camera, offers a mind-numbing 28,000 pixel horizontal resolution. In comparison, an HD video camera offers 1920 horizontal pixels. EPIC S35 offers 6 times the resolution of HD, EPIC FF35 offers 10 times the resolution of HD, EPIC 645, over 30 times and EPIC 617, well over 100 times the resolution of HD.

The computational complexity of producing cinema-quality, raytraced 3D images involves large, downstream costs, including slow “black box” design iterations and costly “render farm” server infrastructures. These costs are symptoms of a problem with today’s computer designs where CPUs and GPUs are efficient at accelerating the rasterized graphics in video games but woefully inefficient at accelerating cinema-quality raytraced graphics. Caustic’s forthcoming standards-based CausticRTâ„¢ platform enables highly parallel CPUs and GPUs to massively-accelerate raytracing, putting it on par with rasterization and resulting in cinema-quality 3D delivered interactively on low-cost PCs.

Founding management and graphics experts are from Apple, Autodesk, ATI, Intel, and NVIDIA.


Intel has its eye on ray tracing, arguing that the technique can run better on general-purpose chips such as its Core 2 Quad than on graphics processors. In 2008, graphics chip heavyweight Nvidia bought RayScale, a ray-tracing specialist.

With 35 employees and $11 million in funding, San Francisco-based Caustic says it’s getting closer to the goal of developing an interactive form of ray tracing


The first Caustic product offering will be announced in April 2009. So benchmarking results can be expected in the April-June, 2009 timeframe.