Imagination announces major updates to PowerVR SDK and Toolkit, including ray tracing code examples.

The latest SDK and Toolkit includes support for HDR textures, enhanced debugging features and examples of ray tracing setups launched on the new Imagination Developer Portal.

London, England; 12th May 2021Imagination Technologies today releases Version 21.1 of the popular PowerVR SDK and Toolkit, adding new features and ray tracing support enhancements to increase functionality and enhance the workflow of developers, technical artists, and engineers across a variety of disciplines. The SDK and Toolkit can be found on the new Imagination Developer Portal.

The updated Developer Portal makes accessing the full PowerVR tools suite easier than ever before and is designed specifically to support Imagination’s growing developer community. It contains new dedicated training materials, showcasing the versatility and features of the SDK.

Chris Smith, Vice President of Software Engineering, Imagination Technologies says; “With over 33% of all mobile handsets sold worldwide containing Imagination GPU IP and a strong presence in many other sectors, from DTV to the desktop space, we have a huge ecosystem of developers to support. The PowerVR Toolkit has always provided a robust and well-featured set of tools to allow developers to take full advantage of our IP innovations. Version 21.1 is no different and will provide the tools and support needed as we move into a new generation of ray traced graphics on mobile platforms.”

These tools and the SDK have seen major additions:


The PowerVR SDK, designed to support all aspects graphics and GPU compute application development, now contains four code examples of ray tracing implementation. For the first time, the SDK provides a comprehensive example of how to efficiently deploy different ray tracing setups into projects and applications in development, ranging from the basic ray tracing algorithm through to hybrid reflections and shadows.

Ray tracing is a graphics rendering technique that brings graphics closer than ever before to photorealism. Imagination has been a pioneer in the advancement of this technique since the early days of PowerVR Wizard. You can find out more about ray tracing here.


PVRRayTracingSimulation is a collection of Vulkan ray tracing layers that allow the user to simulate the capabilities and behaviour of ray tracing enabled PowerVR hardware. This suite allows developers to comprehensively test applications ray tracing features even with non-natively ray tracing enabled hardware. With PVRRayTracingSimulation, more developers can engage with the latest emerging hardware.


PVRTune is Imagination’s hardware profiling and analysis tool. It provides hardware data and performance statistics as an application runs, allowing developers to quickly identify performance issues.

A new feature in Version 21.1 is Guided Analysis which streamlines the profiling process and lets developers know where to look to improve the application’s performance by providing advice on potential bottlenecks or areas of slowdown. This is based on the data captured by PVRTune and can significantly reduce the time needed to carry out performance optimisations.

There are also a number of smaller, new features such as an ability to include the mean, variance, and standard deviation of each counter to the CSV export and the much-requested WASD controls.


PVRTexTool is Imagination’s texture encoding and pre-processing tool which is designed to make it easy for developers to optimise application textures. In the latest version, HDR texture information can now be encoded in the PVR Texture Compression (PVRTC) format. PVRTC-HDR allows for higher fidelity textures without compromising on texture streaming bandwidth.

IBL Environment Map option has also been included, allowing for the generation of diffuse and specular maps for image-based lighting. The diffuse and specular map options are also available through the library, PVRTexLib.


PVRCarbon is Imagination’s API tracing and debugging tool for OpenGL ES and Vulkan, replacing PVRTrace. It is able to record, playback and analyse the application’s use of graphics APIs, giving developers insight into the correctness and behaviour of their applications. Major updates include added OpenCL support, standalone Android 10 GL ES recording and cross-API native buffer tracking and recording.

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