My baloney meter went off the chart last night while watching this:
It is actually a nice piece of software once you consider what it really is. My problem is what they claim it to be.
If you look closely at the video, they only have a few blocks of data they display in different positions. They claim this is to bypass artwork, that is just copy & paste. Well, it is not copy & paste. It is instancing. It is what makes this demo possible in today's generation of hardware.
They can zoom-in to a grain of dirt, but they do not tell you it is the same grain of dirt over and over. If they had to show really unique "atoms", this demo would not be possible today. The challenge is data management. They chose the best compression possible, which is to not have information at all.
Something similar is done in this video by the Gigavoxel guys:
In this case you see some fractal volume coming out of the repetition of the same blocks, but it is essentially the same the Unlimited Detail guys have done. Impressive, yes, but no real applications for it at this stage.
Here is another example from NVIDIA research:
Also the classic Jon Olick's SVO demo:
And then you have the very promising Atomontage Engine:
None of these people claim they have revolutionized graphics, that they have made them 100,000 times better. Why? They know better. The problems to tackle are still too big, we are still generations of hardware away.
You see for many years we have known of this Prophesy. There is this One Engine that will come and replace polygons forever. And there is no question this engine will come, maybe in just a few years. Meanwhile, whoever claims to be this Messiah will get a lot of attention. As usual the Messiah scenario has only three possible solutions:
1. It is really the Messiah
2. It is crazy
3. It is just plain dishonest
I'm not sure about anything, but I have a very strong feeling about which one to pick.