Rethinking Graphics and Gaming Courses Because of Fast Ray Tracing

Educators Paper
Wednesday, 8 August
9:30 - 10 am
Room 9

Most current games are implemented using the graphics processing units (GPUs) found on almost every PC. These GPUs use the z-buffer algorithm to do visibility calculations. Ray tracing, an alternative to the z-buffer algorithm, delivers higher visual quality than the z-buffer algorithm but has historically been too slow for interactive use.

Recent hardware improvements have enhanced ray tracing's speed and utility, and many believe that it will replace the z-buffer algorithm as the visibility engine in games. If that happens, it will imply fundamental changes in both the API and capabilities of 3D graphics engines. This paper discusses the implications for games and graphics-oriented classes if and when this switch to ray tracing occurs.


Kelvin Sung
University of Washington Bothell
Ksung (at)

Peter Shirley
Erik Brunvand
Alan Davis
Steven Parker
Solomon Boulos
University of Utah