Can the PS4 or Xbox One handle ray tracing or path tracing?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, we took a look at how gamers are not getting quite the same bang for their buck when it comes to the Xbone and PlayStation 4 hardware in comparison to previous generations. We also took a look at what Sony and Microsoft should have done.
While standard rasterisation relies on a mix of various methods, ray tracing can produce fluids, transparency, shiny surfaces, reflections, fully dynamic indirect lighting, depth of field, and other effects without requiring as much from video game developers. For the most part ray tracing has been limited to the realm of tech demos but this may be changing very soon.
Some believe the PlayStation 4 might barely be capable of handling path tracing, which traces many rays (samples) per pixel in random directions, and then takes the average value to calculate the final color of each pixel. This method is similar to ray tracing (which may show up in ID Tech 6) in that it can produce visually similar results but can run in realtime on today's PC hardware while generating scenes necessary in any video game.
So far realtime implementations tend to suffer from noise (which is made worse by YouTube video compression) although developers are working on reducing the noise for the final usable versions. But in general the best way to reduce noise is to generate more rays, which of course requires more performance. Developers have previously stated they can produce scenes noise-free at 0.5 FPS while allowing for some noise boosts performance to 30 FPS at 720p. Still, more recent videos of the Brigade game engine seemed to have resolved many of the issues with noise:
Unfortunately, because of these reasons the developers of the Brigade game engine have already stated that "a Brigade powered game will probably not run on PS4 or Xbox." I can't imagine them being wrong on this issue since their tech demos were made using a Nvidia Titan, which produces 4.7 TeraFLOPS while the PS4 GPU "only" can output 1.83 TeraFLOPS at max. While it may be technically possible for path tracing to work on a PS4 the visual result would probably be so noisy it'd be better to stick with rasterisation.
What do you think about the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 not being powerful enough to handle the true next gen in graphics?