Imagination details ray tracing-capable mobile GPU

Daniel Sims

Posts: 227   +11
Staff
In brief: In early November, Imagination Technologies unveiled its latest and most advanced graphics processor, which is supposed to make ray tracing a reality on mobile devices. More recently, it has gone into greater detail, explaining what's behind its ray tracing architecture and what applications it has planned in gaming and beyond.

Imagination claims to bring ray tracing to mobile with the IMG-CXT, the latest entry in the PowerVR series. Though it isn't apparent where the hardware will end up, the specifications on Imagination's website say it will support Linux and Android. The omission of iOS is somewhat peculiar, considering the history of the companies.

Imagination Technologies had worked with Apple since 2006, providing GPUs for iPhones, but had a falling out in 2017. However, Apple repaired its relationship with the graphics supplier in 2020. Now that Apple is producing its own silicon, it may just be that it no longer needs Imagination for iPhone graphics hardware, but that's speculative at best.

Last week on its blog, Imagination started to explain what's behind its Photon ray tracing architecture, even linking to a whitepaper. Diagrams on Imagination's website detail its Ray Acceleration Cluster, which Photon uses to manage all ray-tracing capabilities (above).

Imagination's website specifies that the IMG-CXT should deliver up to 1.3G gigarays per second (GRay/s) for ray traced shadows, ambient occlusion, reflections, and global illumination. In comparison, Nvidia's mid-range RTX 2060 desktop GPU delivers around 5GRay/s. That is a lot more from a nearly three-year-old GPU, but the RTX 2060 is a full desktop component that doesn't have to worry about draining a phone or tablet battery.

The IMG-CXT's traditional rendering performance is also supposed to be an upgrade over the previous IMG-A series and B-series GPUs. It currently supports several graphics APIs, including Vulkan, OpenGL, and Android NN HAL. Imagination says it is intended for "premium smartphones." In addition to gaming, the company suggests the IMG-CXT's ray tracing could also be used to make interior decorating simulations more realistic, or the automotive industry could use it for more realistic virtual representations of cars.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,659   +6,447
A Ray Tracing GPU is inevitable.

The question really should be: How well will I be able to see those shadow, smoke and reflection effects on a 5 inch display?
 

Lounds

Posts: 992   +891
Mobile tech is always a good 5-7 years behind to get desktop level of performance. Maybe we'll see RT on mobiles in 2024.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,956   +1,558
A Ray Tracing GPU is inevitable.

The question really should be: How well will I be able to see those shadow, smoke and reflection effects on a 5 inch display?
I thought half the benefit of real time path tracing was to save developers time. So it takes considerably less man hours to add lighting to a game than it did before.

Also, I think I’d appreciate better lighting on a small screen tbh. Why not?
 

Aceseven

Posts: 154   +219
Oh man, those microtransaction boxes and greedy mobile games sure will look nice in the future.

phone gaming is straight up garbage, people burn a grand on a phone to brag about it yet break out into hives if a dev ask them to pay for a game to play on it.
 

godrilla

Posts: 333   +160
Mobile tech is always a good 5-7 years behind to get desktop level of performance. Maybe we'll see RT on mobiles in 2024.
Samsung has a mobile soc with rdna 2.0 incoming so that's more like 1 year behind now.
The industry wants to capitalize and take advantage of mobile gaming because the upgrade cycle is annual to every other year vs. Consoles and PCs that upgrade cycle every 3 to 5 years.
 

godrilla

Posts: 333   +160
It's **** on PC so why would it be any better on mobile?
It's also in the cloud rtx 3080 like performance Nvidia's claims 1440p @ 120hz. I believe this is like the chicken and egg example. They will create the software that can eventually scale to something playable when the hardware catches up.
 

grumblguts

Posts: 440   +375
Its only advantage is on curved surfaces, other than that its a pointless process that just hurts performance.