Imagination launches Ray Tracing Levels System

An insight into the future of ray tracing acceleration in the graphics industry

London, UK – 22nd September 2020 – With ray tracing becoming increasingly important for a wide range of graphics applications, Imagination Technologies has developed a Ray Tracing Levels System, to give developers and OEMs an insight into the capability of solutions for ray tracing acceleration available now and in the future.

The Ray Tracing Levels System primer is available to download now.

The System identifies increasingly advanced stages of ray tracing acceleration, across a range of architectures, not just Imagination’s PowerVR Ray Tracing, with each level providing higher performance and better hardware utilisation. This translates to greater real-world ray tracing performance with better efficiency for more complex effects and higher resolutions. Referring to the System, companies looking to deploy, or develop on, ray tracing solutions will be able to confidently understand the market and find the right technology to meet their needs.

The Ray Tracing Levels System consists of six levels, with the capabilities and requirements described as follows:

  • Level 0: Legacy solutions
  • Level 1: Software on traditional GPUs
  • Level 2: Ray/box and ray/tri-testers in hardware
  • Level 3: Bounding Volume Hierarchy (BVH) processing in hardware
  • Level 4: BVH processing and coherency sorting in hardware
  • Level 5: Coherent BVH processing with Scene Hierarchy Generation (SHG) in hardware (*)

(*) A BVH Builder (SHG) can also be added to lower efficiency levels where this would be indicated by the addition of “plus”, e.g. “level 2 plus” solution

Jon Peddie, Principle, Jon Peddie Research, says; “The Ray Tracing Levels System is exactly what is needed to understand and reap the benefits of ray tracing across a range of products. Ray tracing has long been considered the utopia of 3D graphics, but the proliferation of solutions makes it far from clear whether people are even referring to the same thing when they say, ‘ray tracing’. With this system, game engines, smartphone manufacturers and more have the insight to understand the differences between ray tracing implementations, speak with specificity about ray tracing, and, ultimately, enable consumers to enjoy incredibly realistic images on mobile devices, just like they do at the cinema.”

Kristof Beets, Senior Director of Technical Product Management, Imagination Technologies, says; “Real-time ray tracing is the most exciting development in 3D graphics of the last 10 years. It’s a technology that everyone wants but not everyone understands, especially when it comes to the benefits on mobile. We want to change that. By creating the Ray Tracing Levels System, we’re helping to bring clarity to the industry about the confusing range of different ray tracing offerings.”

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that accurately traces the path of light in a scene and can render believable reflection, refraction, and lighting effects with much higher degrees of realism and fidelity than traditional rasterization techniques.

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