The Tech Report visited Imagination Technologies' booth at GDC where they were showing off a new processor, the Wizard GPU. It is based on the PowerVR Series6XT Rogue graphics processor which is specifically designed to accelerate ray tracing performance, a topic we haven't heard much about lately. They describe the performance as capable of processing 300 million rays and 100 million dynamic triangles per second which translates to 7 to 10 rays per pixel at 720p and 30Hz or 3 to 5 rays a pixel at 1080p and 30Hz. That is not bad, though Imagination Technologies estimates movies display at a rate of 16 to 32 rays per pixel so it may be a while before we see a Ray Tracing slider under Advanced Graphics Options.
"When we visited Imagination Technologies at CES, they were showing off some intriguing hardware that augments their GPUs in order to accelerate ray-traced rendering. Ray tracing is a well-known and high-quality form of rendering that relies on the physical simulation of light rays bouncing around in a scene. Although it's been used in movies and in static scene creation, ray tracing has generally been too computationally intensive to be practical for real-time graphics and gaming. However, Imagination Tech is looking to bring ray-tracing to real-time graphics—in the mobile GPU space, no less—with its new family of Wizard GPUs."
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It’s a hybrid solution,
It’s a hybrid solution, handling rays in dedicated GPU hardware, instead of purely software and only on the CPU, and maybe gaming engines and graphics pipelines should be restricting rays to only areas of the scene that need the more realistic ray traced effects, instead of using a globally projected ray source tied to the entire scene. This can be done for whole objects, as well as specific vertex groups in the mesh object/s itself and all of the gaming engines have the ability to restrict what objects get what lighting. Its nice to see this GPU getting the decision making circuitry to perform its own calls for rays without having to rely on the CPU for assistance. There is only so many rays to provide the ray traced effects so if the rays are used wisely real-time ray tracing may be really coming to games. The real bottleneck for ray tracing is the latency introduced between CPU and GPU, but giving ray tracing over to mostly the dedicated GPU circuitry will help.