Michael McGuigan at Brookhaven National Laboratory thinks so, and has used the Lab's Blue Gene/L supercomputer to generate a photorealistic, real-time artificial world. He found that conventional ray-tracing software could run 822 times faster on the Blue Gene/L than on a standard computer, allowing it to convincingly mimic natural lighting in real time.
The ultimate objective is to pass the "Graphics Turing Test," in which a human judge viewing and interacting with an artificially generated world should be unable to reliably distinguish it from reality.
He believes that should be possible in the next few years, once supercomputers enter the petaflop range, along with parallel computing.
Read article - 'Matrix-style virtual worlds 'a few years away''