Can’t wait to create photo-realistic images for free?

After witnessing the visual computing research demos at Research at Intel Day 2011, I am excited to envision consumer shopping experience in the near future. Actually the “near” future is going to be nearer than I thought because Intel Labs announced that it will release “Embree: Photo-Realistic Ray Tracing Kernels” as open source. This will enable people (yes, literally anyone) to try out the code and use it for free if they like it.


Embree is a progressive photorealistic rendering system that turns 3D models into images that are virtually indistinguishable from a photograph. Viewing 3D models as images is part and parcel of daily consumer life. Online shopping, movie production and architectural visualization are very good examples where realistic rendering of 3D models is important. Turning 3D models into pictures can be done in three ways. Non-interactive, real-time and progressive methods. Briefly the differences between these methods are

– Non-interactive: Images are pre computed and stored for later viewing. (Example: Movie production)

– Real-time: Used in dynamic interactive environments where it is impossible to predict the image to render. The 3D model must be converted to images on the fly and latency cannot be tolerated in such environments (Example: Games)

– Progressive: An interactive scene can be converted to an image but slight latency can be tolerated (within seconds). A final image which is virtually indistinguishable from a photograph will be rendered in few seconds. This method can be viewed as intermediate between Offline (which takes hours or sometimes days) and real-time.

Professionals such as movie makers, architects, and car companies currently use non-interactive methods to create photo-realistic images for consumers. Software develops can use the Embree photo-realistic ray tracing kernels to improve the performance of their rendering applications by as much as 2X, accelerating the transition from non-interactive to progressive rendering.

This transition will enable completely new applications and user experiences. Imagine being able to walk thru a newly-designed building online before it is built and being able to get photo-realistic pictures from arbitrary view points within seconds, or being able to see an accurate 3D model of your new car headlights before you order it.

Read about Embree, see a demo, and download the source at: I can’t wait to hear your experiences.

Divya Kolar

About Divya Kolar

Divya Kolar holds a M.S in Computer Science conferred in 2006 from Portland State University. She joined Intel in 2005 and has previously worked as a Software Engineer where she was an active researcher in various security and manageability technologies like Intel® Active Management Technology. Today she is a Vision Strategist in the Intel’s largest research group and is responsible to promote Intel technologies to external media partners besides performing ecosystem enabling and competitive technology analysis for Intel Labs’ microprocessor research. Besides her responsibilities at Intel she has always been enthusiastic in promoting and encouraging young adults to stay in computing. She is an active board member for the largest women employee group at Intel and has been an active member in Anita Borg Institute and local SWE chapters since 2007 and has conducted multiple presentations at these conferences for over 5 years.

6 Responses to Can’t wait to create photo-realistic images for free?

  1. raoul says:

    Isn’t the GPU much faster at this kind of photorealistic ray tracing? I’ve heard that iray (Nvidia’s photorealistic GPU rendering solution) is about 20x faster than a quad-core CPU. So why is Intel still bothering?

  2. Manfred Ernst says:

    I assume you are referring to Nvidia’s comparison of a 3 ½ year old CPU to a system with four of the latest high-end GPUs. I’d recommend to make your own comparisons with one high-end CPU vs. one high-end GPU, rendering a complex production scene with tens of millions of triangles. You may also want to compare power consumption and programmability. When making such a comparison, most users and developers of rendering engines come to the same conclusion: Intel® CPUs are the best choice for photo-realistic rendering. Have a look at this article (\_luxology\_brief\_final.pdf) and this video ( to see what industry experts say.

  3. soWhat says:

    yes man that’s what we are talking about compare the GTX 580 which offers 1580 Gflops which means 1.5Tflops in single precison and 1/8 thatin double precision (due to driver limitation, i hope they will get rid off it soon) and the intel 980x which barely offer 107 Gflops, So what?