Imagination shows off real time ray tracing demos at MWC

by: Robert TriggsFebruary 23, 2016


Last year, Imagination Technologies unveiled details about its GR6500 GPU, a graphics chip that features a dedicated Ray Tracing Unit (RTU) to help run the demanding graphical technology in real time. Imagination has been showing off the capabilities of its PowerVR Wizard ray tracing architecture at MWC 2016, with a selection of applications running in real-time on a quad-cluster PowerVR GR6500 GPU.

The first demonstration shows off how the graphics chip handles dynamic geometry, using an experimental version of the Unity 5 engine that support’s the company’s ray tracing technology. According to Imagination “the Unity engine performs dynamic skinning to animate the zombies using a vertex shader, and then the vertex positions are fed into the scene hierarchy generator to assemble the scene acceleration structure in real-time.” I don’t know too much about all that, but pay attention to the animations, lighting, and the reflection in the windows on the right too. Those look pretty impressive and the zombie animations appear very smooth.

Speaking of reflections, Imagination has also provided the short clip below to show how “hybrid ray tracing rendering” can be used to introduce ray traced reflections into a traditional rasterized game. The effect certainly adds a lot of depth and a more realistic look to the scene.

Impressively, Imagination states that this quad-cluster GR6500 arrangement is energy and area efficient enough to fit comfortably inside a smartphone or tablet, but it can also be scaled up into multi-core and cluster configurations for additional power in PC or game console hardware. Imagination also says that as well as giving gamers impressive visuals, ray tracing can also simplify content creation for developers by integrating the technology directly into game engines, such as Unity.

Imagination-CI20 (3)Read more: A look at PowerVR’s Ray Tracing GR6500 GPU20

Imagination will continue to showcase its ray tracing demos at MWC 2016 and will also be showing off a full set of technologies at GDC in San Francisco next month. Hopefully we will see the technology appear in some products in the future too.

  • isaac rameetse

    Is funny that I don’t see difference between this method and the rasterization method.

    • Steven Fox

      I haven`t been blown away by it either, it looks cool, but not much better than with resterization(besides the fact that it requires a more powerful hardware to do so).
      You saw the day cycle, how can that even be considered a demo, everything runs at 5 FPS!

      Although I do like that console part, could well implement a powerful PVR GPU inside Nintendo’s next handheld. Would be much better than any other solution at performance/efficiency/die size scale.

    • Brad Fortin

      The most noticeable difference will be the lack of aliasing: The checkered pattern on the front of the diner, the edges of shadows, etc, all free of jaggies.

      Ever played a game and the edge of a shadow is made up of ugly square blocks? That’ll be a smooth edge with slight blurring as the shadow gets further from the subject, like a real shadow.

      • isaac rameetse

        Today`s antialiasing is much efficient than 10 years ago when we started gaming. This tech is just a novelty for show, never gonna happen in one PC box. Plus the train has already passed. Gaming is in mobile now. The age of gigaherz race is gone.

        • Brad Fortin

          “Gaming is in mobile now.” Good thing PowerVR makes GPUs for mobile, then.

          No matter how advanced antialiasing gets it’s still just a patch on top of the raster aliasing problem. The best solution to a problem isn’t to treat the symptoms, the best solution is to prevent the problem at the cause, and that’s what ray tracing does.