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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:37 PM   #1
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Future iPhones May Offer More Realistic Lighting and Shadows with New Ray-Tracing GPU




Apple's graphics partner for iOS devices, Imagination Technologies, has announced a new version of its PowerVR graphics architecture that includes ray-tracing capabilities. Apple currently uses the PowerVR G6430 graphics package from Imagination in its latest A7 chip that powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and Retina iPad mini, so Imagination's new technology is likely of interest to Apple.

Offering more realistic lighting and shadows, the new GPU design known as "Wizard" marks a significant leap forward by bringing ray tracing to mobile devices.
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For the better part of the last eight years, we have been busy developing unique hardware and software technologies to radically lower the cost and dramatically increase the efficiency and performance of ray tracing.

This work culminates at GDC 2014 with the official launch of the PowerVR Wizard GPU family, a range of IP processors that offer high-performance ray tracing, graphics and compute in a power envelope suitable for mobile and embedded use cases. This opens up the potential of highly photorealistic, computer generated imagery to a host of new real-time applications and markets not previously possible.
AnandTech has more on the developments, which are an extension of the Series6XT graphics profiled last month, noting that Imagination is combining ray tracing with traditional rasterized graphics.
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Rasterization is still the fastest and most effective way to implement a number of real-time rendering steps - rasterization has been called the ultimate cheat in graphics, and over the years hardware and software developers have gotten very, very good at this cheating - so the idea is to continue to use rasterization where it makes sense, and then implementing ray tracing effects on top of scene rasterization when they are called for. The combination of the two forming a hybrid model that maintains the benefits of rasterization while including the benefits of ray tracing.
Comparison of traditional rasterized (top) and hybrid rasterized/ray-traced (bottom) scenes
Alongside the upcoming mobile GPU designs that will support ray tracing, Imagination's expertise in ray tracing will include an impact on game developers in the nearer term with yesterday's unveiling of version 5 of the popular Unity game engine. Unity 5 will leverage Imagination's ray-tracing technology to allow game developers to view lighting changes in near real time, accelerating the development process.

Apple has not been explicitly mentioned as interested in taking advantage of the new Wizard GPU designs, but the company has used Imagination GPUs in all of its iOS devices and is a minority investor in Imagination, holding an approximately 10 percent stake in the company.

As for timing, it seems that Wizard GPUs will not be making their way into products until 2015, indicating that they are not candidates for the iPhone 6, which is expected to debut later this year. Future iPhone models could, however, incorporate Wizard GPUs for more realistic graphics, and it appears that Imagination is banking on this technology becoming the standard for mobile GPUs in the future.

Article Link: Future iPhones May Offer More Realistic Lighting and Shadows with New Ray-Tracing GPU
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:39 PM   #2
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future iphones may offer reality distortion fields
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:40 PM   #3
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you'd be able to snap unicorns using these.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:40 PM   #4
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for gaming? or something else? mapping?

that seems like it is really processor intensive...though i don't have a clue what it means.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:41 PM   #5
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Even if you're not in to games, this is pretty awesome news.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:42 PM   #6
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Frankly the iPhone and iPad have the most impressive graphics performance of any mobile device - look at top tier games on the iPhone 5S compared to its counterparts... Not even close.

A bump like this would be killer for anyone who loves gaming on iOS.

Also - appleTV gaming anyone?
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:42 PM   #7
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The difference in graphics quality these days is crazy good. Just incredible what's possible. Almost scary to think where it's going!

Edit: gaming ATV
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BJMRamage View Post
for gaming? or something else? mapping?

that seems like it is really processor intensive...though i don't have a clue what it means.
Imagination (PowerVR creators) is a GPU company.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:43 PM   #9
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GPU is awesome
hope it gets used since 16GB is not enough to hold games with more data
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:44 PM   #10
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This is very overhyped across all the news today (not just iPhone specific). Ray tracing subjective visual advantage at too much of a cost.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:44 PM   #11
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Brilliant!

Could anyone have imagined, a decade or two ago, what mobile phones would become? The hub of a digital lifestyle with communications, entertainment, and day management equally at home in the palm of one's hand....

This new graphics chip will revolutionize the way we play on our devices for real...And maybe introduce some sort of virtualization in tasks outside of gaming?

The real coup would be that this new image tech uses a comparable amount of battery as existing tech. That might be asking too much though...
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:44 PM   #12
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Apple should really try and get it into the next iPhone.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BJMRamage View Post
for gaming? or something else? mapping?

that seems like it is really processor intensive...though i don't have a clue what it means.
It has dedicated hardware to do it. Just imagine the current iPhone GPU with extra hardware slapped in to do this. It's an alternate way of lighting as opposed to current rasterization methods. It's more physically based, so it's more accurate, but very resource intensive.

I have a hard time believing Apple will use their precious die space to include this, however. Since they won't be direct users of it, they'd have to convince their developers of its usefulness.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:46 PM   #14
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What we really need is an innovation on the battery front that can be brought to the mainstream market quick, cheap and easy (And still high quality).
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:46 PM   #15
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Am I the only one who prefers the rasterized-only image in the example?
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:47 PM   #16
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I am sceptical. Instead of investing into ray tracing they should have used the transistor budget to improve the rasterisation performance. I'd like to see the API though.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:52 PM   #17
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I am sceptical. Instead of investing into ray tracing they should have used the transistor budget to improve the rasterisation performance. I'd like to see the API though.
ImgTec proposed/has an open API for it, OpenRL.

They've already used the transistor budget to improve rasterization. This is completely added on hardware. They bought Caustic which makes cards for commercial ray tracing use. Id's John Carmack [1][2] was impressed with what they had done.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by roow110 View Post
Am I the only one who prefers the rasterized-only image in the example?
yes
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:55 PM   #19
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Meh iPhone games are boring
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:57 PM   #20
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Think of how it will make a snappier Safari!
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:58 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by roow110 View Post
Am I the only one who prefers the rasterized-only image in the example?
I agree. Just sayin'. In the ray traced one you can't see the tree or the car. Hopefully this is simply a proof of tech. I don't really care if every leaf has it's own lifelike shadow if the picture as a whole looks dingier.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:58 PM   #22
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So, let me guess. Infinity Blade 3.0 with ray tracing? At WWDC 2015?
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:59 PM   #23
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Think of how it will make a snappier Safari!
Every time someone posts this, a kitten gets hit by a car.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 03:59 PM   #24
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I am sceptical. Instead of investing into ray tracing they should have used the transistor budget to improve the rasterisation performance. I'd like to see the API though.
I knew someone would be able to spin this into a negative. It's not. This is a technology that is available for SOC makers to choose to include if they so with. I'm quite sure Apple will put a lot of thought into what transistors they include on future A series chips (not to mention simulations and experimental prototypes). You needn't worry.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 04:00 PM   #25
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Awesome article! i'm really into this

Is this PowerVR GX6650 ? ? ? help
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