Imagination GPU adds ray tracing

November 04, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
GPU adds ray tracing acceleration
Imagination Technology has launched a graphics processor unit (GPU) design for smartphone chips that includes ray tracing.

The CXT GPU IP is the first implementation of the PowerVR Photon ray tracing architecture, which Imagination Technology started working on over a decade ago.

“Gaming experience is very important and this is the primary use case for the majority of GPUs we deploy said Andrew Girdler, product manager for graphics and automotive at Imagination. “Ray tracing has been part of our development since 2010  with the Plato GR6500 test chip and we have continued to hone and optimise that architecture with all the latest standards and that’s been an important part of our development over the last decade. This is the industry’s first level 4 ray tracing GPU, ahead of any desktop device today,” he said. 

Ray tracing imitates how light behaves in the real world to create more realistic 3D scenes, but due to its computational complexity, ray tracing has only recently come to desktop PCs and gaming consoles. The Photon architecture brings this to mobile developers and gamers with full hardware acceleration.

The IMG CXT-48-1536 RT3 core features three instances of the Ray Acceleration Cluster (RAC), offering up to a total of 1.3GRay/s. This delivers photorealistic ray traced shadows, reflections, global illumination, and ambient occlusion, with high frame rates, in a mobile power budget.

The initial focus is for processors in smartphone in two years time, and Imagination says it already has partners licensing the IP in multiple markets.

The multi-core Photon architecture can be scaled to cloud, data centre and PC markets. This can generate up to 9TFLOPS of FP32 rasterised performance and over 7.8GRay/s of ray tracing performance. Imagination is also looking at the CXT being used in ultra-premium automotive platforms, for example providing photorealistic representation of vehicles for surround view and dense urban areas for sat-navs, as well as mixed-reality heads-up displays (HUDs), digital speedometers and other information displays. It can also

Ray tracing acceleration boosts the quality of 3D images

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