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Imagination demos real-time ray tracing on a PowerVR GPU


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5x faster than a GTX 980 Ti while consuming 10x less power, claims Alex Voica.

Virtual reality has hogged the limelight at CES 2016, however if it's ground-breaking visuals you're after, turn your attention to Imagination Technologies. The UK-based firm, best known for its work in mobile GPUs, is broadening its horizons by demonstrating real-time ray tracing on the PowerVR Wizard graphics architecture.

Ray tracing has long been considered the holy grail of next-generation PC visuals, but the computational cost of generating dynamic images by tracing the paths of light in real time has historically restricted its use to offline workflows.

Suggesting that real-time ray tracing may arrive sooner than we think, Imagination has been showcasing a working sample of the PowerVR GR6500 graphics processor first announced at GDC 2014. The 28nm chip, shown working on a PCIe evaluation board, is the first product from the PowerVR Wizard series and serves as a complete graphics engine with built-in ray-tracing capabilities.

In a series of demos, Imagination's senior marketing manager, Alexandru Voica, revealed that the PowerVR Wizard GPU was able to deliver a 5x performance advantage over a GeForce GTX 980 Ti, while consuming 10x less power in certain ray-tracing workloads. It's difficult to verify the authenticity of such claims without knowing more about the exact test setups, but it's a fascinating look into what next-generation graphics could have to offer.

The above image was rendered on the development system using the PowerVR GR6500, a mobile GPU whose die size and power consumption is said to be comparable with GPUs that already exist in today's smartphones. Highlighting the fact that its technology is scalable from mobile devices to desktops and even workstations, Imagination also showed off multiple GR6500 boards working in tandem in the same system.

Where ray tracing goes from here is anybody's guess, but we suspect a few big-name manufacturers will be eager to license Imagination's PowerVR Wizard technology.

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HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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in certain ray-tracing workloads

And that's the gotcha right there. Anyone can cherry pick a benchmark that shows off their product's particular strength; it doesn't mean you can extrapolate that performance to any other workload. Let's not forget that the 980 Ti is actually relatively weak at ray-tracing: it loses out to the 290X by some distance in Luxmark…

It's already taken Imagination 2 years to go from announcement to a “working sample”. Will we see a shipping product with the specs of that working sample? I can't see them pushing their way into the desktop add-in card market, but a product pulling “10x less power” than a 980 Ti (sloppy language, but I'm going to assume that means 1/10th) is still looking at a 25W TDP: that's not going in MY smartphone, I'll tell you that for nothing ;)
But can it ray trace Crysis?
I see Imagination will be the next Nvidia Acquisition…
Maybe we'll see a day where instead of just a GPU, we can have dedicated shaders, texture fillers, ray tracers, etc cards.
My printer is also 5 times faster than my toaster at coloring paper, while consuming 10 times less energy.