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 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.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer covering SoCs, displays, cameras, and everything in between. In his spare moments you'll find him building audio gadgets.