Imagination Technologies, the world’s leading developer of graphics processing IP for mobile applications, has announced a new family of graphics IP cores that supports real-time ray-tracing technology. The PowerVR Wizard graphics cores are capable of rendering graphics using conventional methods, but can also render scenes in the so-called “hybrid” mode (traditional rendering + ray-tracing) as well as pure ray-tracing mode, providing extreme kinds of quality.
“Imagination's highly-efficient PowerVR GPUs have played a key role in driving the creation of entirely new categories of mobile devices. Now we are changing the game again by bringing the next level of realism to mobile and consumer devices. Our ray tracing IP is here, and it's ready for our licensees and developers to begin creating a new wave of immersive and exciting PowerVR-based consumer experiences,” said Hossein Yassaie, president and CEO of Imagination.
The Power VR “Wizard" architecture is a ray tracing-enabled version of the PowerVR series 6XT “Rogue” architecture which adds significant new features to the pipeline, enabling accurate real time modelling of fully dynamic lights and shadows. Everything developers know about the PowerVR Rogue architecture is present in Wizard GPUs, enabling them to start to use ray tracing without extensive new learning.
The PowerVR GR6500 graphics IP features four unified shading clusters (USCs) with 128 ALU cores delivering in excess of 150GFLOPS (FP32) or 300GFLOPS (FP16) at 600MHz. Compute performance of the GR6500 enables to ray-cast 300MRPS (million rays per second) and 100MDTPS (million dynamic triangles per second) at default clock-speed. The core features numerous advanced technologies, including various texture/geometry/bugger compression technologies, support for Deep Color as well as ultra-high-definition resolutions.
All Wizard cores are designed to provide leading support for a range of APIs such as OpenGL ES 3.x, OpenGL 3.x, Direct3D 11 Level 10_0, OpenCL 1.x, and OpenRL 1.x.
PowerVR GR6500 is the first member of the new Wizard family of cores designed to bring real-time, interactive ray traced graphics to a broad range of consumer and mobile platforms, as well as gaming consoles and mainstream gaming PCs, workstations and servers.
Further cores will follow that offer smaller power and area footprints for more constrained environments, along with scaled up cores to deliver fully ray traced content for the ultimate in cinema quality graphics.
Benefits of Ray-Tracing and Hybrid Rendering
PowerVR Wizard cores enable more immersive games and apps with real-life dynamic lighting models that enable advanced lighting effects, dynamic soft shadows, and life-like reflections and transparencies, previously unachievable in a mobile form factor. PowerVR Wizard Ray Tracing IP is highly scalable, making it disruptive to many other markets beyond mobile.
Enabling ray tracing capability in consumer devices required a fundamental breakthrough in the algorithms used within ray tracing, as well as the careful addition of optimized fixed function blocks in the GPU to allow ray tracing operations to be performed within the power consumption and bandwidth budgets available in today's mainstream consumer devices.
With Imagination's Wizard Ray Tracing family, patented custom hardware engines ensure the GPU's processor clusters are kept free to run sophisticated shaders, producing results with minimal developer effort. The unique hardware ray tracing processors, including coherence gathering engines, fixed function intersection testing array and accelerated scene hierarchy generator, receive rays from the shaders, determines their intersection and initiates more shaders. All of this is made possible with entirely dynamic scenes through the addition of a novel hardware pipeline to build scene hierarchies required for ray tracing in parallel with other operations, all while remaining compatible with existing programmable vertex operations.
PowerVR Wizard cores address the real-world use cases of ray tracing with fully interactive dynamic content and photorealistic lighting. The net effect is an architecture that can perform ray tracing operations around 100 times as efficiently as performing the same operation using GPGPU functionality.
In addition to the clear benefits for traditional game engines through the easy addition of many high quality and dynamic shadows, reflections, transparencies, global-lighting, ambient occlusion and more, PowerVR Wizard GPUs can enable a broad range of other capabilities that would either be impossible, low quality or too inefficient using standard techniques. Examples include lens distortion correction, lenticular display rendering, multi-perspective rendering, targeted rendering to points of interest, line-of-sight calculations, collision detection and more.
The combination of efficient shading clusters and low-bandwidth ray tracing will enable a giant step forward for developers, who can bring a new level of quality and enhanced realism to their apps and games. For example, ray tracing can add a superior shadowing or lighting solution to existing games while allowing game developers to preserve the vast majority of the investment that they have already made in their game engines and tools. In addition, dynamic generation of assets in-game will streamline the content creation workflow and save distribution costs by reducing the size of the game files.
While power-efficient enough for mobile applications, the PowerVR Wizard architecture is able to scale up to configurations capable of rendering interactive cinema for high-end gaming machines and consumer devices.
The PowerVR Wizard GR6500 core is available for licensing now.