An article discussing how Rendering Games with Raytracing Will Revolutionize Graphics
and a follow-up
. I initially dismissed them as merely interesting since he's talking about the hardware requirements for 100 fps at very high resolutions since that's what high-end gamers expect. However, I couldn't get the author's main point out of my mind: the number of pixels requiring higher-order reflection calculations decreases dramatically as the number of required reflections increases. In other words ray-tracing a scene with and without mirrored surfaces (as an extreme) doesn't result in the kind of performance hit you might expect.
The reason that it kept bugging me is that Homeworld wouldn't actually have that many reflections in the first place since the odds of a light-ray hitting anything after the first reflection is pretty low - it's called "space" for a reason! I don't know what the performance penalty would be for ray-tracing Homeworld but I think it would be tolerable particularly at moderate resolutions and frame rates. Also of interest is the linked OpenRT
library since the "syntax of the API is nearly identical to OpenGL"...