Future iPhones May Offer More Realistic Lighting and Shadows with New Ray-Tracing GPU

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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.
    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
  2. macrumors 68030


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
    future iphones may offer reality distortion fields
  3. macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    you'd be able to snap unicorns using these.
  4. macrumors 68000


    Oct 2, 2007
    for gaming? or something else? mapping?

    that seems like it is really processor intensive...though i don't have a clue what it means.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 6, 2012
    Even if you're not in to games, this is pretty awesome news.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2010
    One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
    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?
  7. Santabean2000, Mar 19, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014

    macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2007
    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 ;)
  8. macrumors 68000


    Nov 3, 2010
    Imagination (PowerVR creators) is a GPU company.
  9. macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    GPU is awesome
    hope it gets used since 16GB is not enough to hold games with more data
  10. macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2013
    This is very overhyped across all the news today (not just iPhone specific). Ray tracing subjective visual advantage at too much of a cost.
  11. macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2010
    Miami, FL

    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...
  12. macrumors 601

    The Doctor11

    Dec 15, 2013
    Apple should really try and get it into the next iPhone.
  13. macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    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.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    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).
  15. macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2011
    Am I the only one who prefers the rasterized-only image in the example?
  16. macrumors 601

    Oct 14, 2008
    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.
  17. macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    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.
  18. macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2010
  19. macrumors 68000

    Mar 5, 2012
    Central California
    Meh iPhone games are boring
  20. macrumors member

    Nov 16, 2011
    Think of how it will make a snappier Safari!
  21. macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    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.
  22. macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2010
    Almost Rock Solid
    So, let me guess. Infinity Blade 3.0 with ray tracing? At WWDC 2015?
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 6, 2012
    Every time someone posts this, a kitten gets hit by a car.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2012
    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.
  25. macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2014
    Awesome article! i'm really into this

    Is this PowerVR GX6650 ? ? ? help

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