Imagination launches the most advanced ray tracing GPU

IMG CXT brings desktop-quality visuals to mobile

London, England – 4th November 2021Imagination Technologies announces IMG CXT, its flagship GPU IP which debuts its PowerVR Photon ray tracing architecture. By adding Photon hardware ray tracing, the IMG CXT represents another big jump in GPU IP, delivering incredible performance for games and other graphical use cases. Photon, the industry’s most advanced ray tracing architecture, brings desktop-quality visuals to mobile and embedded applications and has already been licensed for multiple markets.

Ray tracing is a game-changing technology that delivers a step-change in graphics realism. By imitating how light behaves in the real world it makes it possible to create 3D scenes that are near indistinguishable from real life. Due to its computational complexity, ray tracing has only recently come to desktop PCs and gaming consoles, but thanks to IMG CXT’s revolutionary Photon architecture, mobile developers and gamers are also now able to take advantage of this incredible rendering technology with full hardware acceleration. Photon brings ray tracing to the most exciting applications including mobile, gaming, AR, desktop, data centre, cloud, and next-generation automotive.

The Photon architecture represents a decade of development in making ray tracing viable in low-power-enabled devices and delivers a major leap in the visual possibilities for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and automotive solutions. Ray tracing can be performed with varying levels of performance and efficiency and to highlight this Imagination established the Ray Tracing Levels System (RTLS), identifying six levels of ray tracing, from Level 0 to Level 5. The Photon architecture inside IMG CXT sits at Level 4 of the RTLS, making it the most advanced currently available, enhancing ray tracing performance and efficiency to deliver a desktop-quality experience for mobile gamers and developers.

The IMG CXT-48-1536 RT3 core features three instances of the Ray Acceleration Cluster (RAC), offering up to a total of 1.3GRay/s. This delivers photorealistic ray traced shadows, reflections, global illumination, and ambient occlusion, with high frame rates, in a mobile power budget.

IMG CXT is also a significant step forward for rasterised graphics performance, with 50% more compute, texturing, and geometry performance than Imagination’s previous-generation GPU IP. Its low-power superscalar architecture delivers high-performance at low clock frequencies for exceptional FPS/W efficiency, while Imagination Image Compression (IMGIC) greatly reduces bandwidth requirements.

Photon for PC and data centre

The Photon architecture can be scaled to cloud, data centre and PC markets thanks to Imagination’s multi-core technology. This can generate up to 9TFLOPS of FP32 rasterised performance and over 7.8GRay/s of ray tracing performance, all while offering up to 2.5x greater power efficiency than today’s Level 2 or 3 RTLS ray tracing solutions.

IMG CXT is ideally suited for ultra-premium automotive HMI platforms. It enables the photorealistic representation of vehicles for surround view and dense urban areas for sat-navs, as well as mixed-reality heads-up displays (HUDs), digital speedometers and other information displays. It can also deliver premium in-car gaming and entertainment experiences while occupants wait for the vehicle to charge.

Dr Jon Peddie, President and Founder, Jon Peddie Research, says: “Imagination Technologies pioneered hardware-accelerated ray tracing 10 years ago and has scaled it for the mobile market with its new PowerVR Photon architecture. As Imagination’s first Level 4 RTLS IP, CXT offers developers a hardware block dedicated to accelerating ray tracing that promises more power and area efficiency than other solutions. Consumers have come to appreciate the realism ray tracing provides and now will demand it in all their devices in the near future.”

Photon Architecture in depth

The PowerVR Photon architecture features the RAC, a new low-power, dedicated hardware GPU block which accelerates and offloads more of the ray tracing computations from the shader cores compared to less-efficient Level 2 RTLS architectures.

The RAC consists of the Ray Store, Ray Task Scheduler and Coherency Gatherer and is closely coupled to two 128-wide Unified Shading Clusters (USCs) featuring high-speed dedicated data paths for the most efficient and lowest-power ray traced deployment. The Ray Store keeps ray data structures on-chip during processing, providing high-bandwidth read and write access to all units in the RAC, avoiding slowdowns or power increases from storing or reading ray data to DRAM. The Ray Task Scheduler offloads the shader clusters, deploying and tracking ray workloads with dedicated hardware, keeping ray throughput high and power consumption low. The unique Coherency Gatherer unit analyses all rays in flight and bundles rays from across the scene into coherent groups enabling them to be processed with much greater efficiency.

These features combine to deliver greater and more consistent ray tracing performance for developers than current solutions on the market, enabling them to deliver more advanced effects when rendering complex surfaces such as cars, characters, and terrain, to create more detailed environments than ever before.

Industry feedback

Travis Boatman, CEO, Carbonated Inc, says: “At Carbonated, veterans from Zynga, Electronic Arts and Blizzard, we’re excited about Imagination Technologies leading the future of mobile GPU and ray-tracing technologies. It is important for us to optimise Mad World, our squad-based mobile PVP game, on O3DE for Imagination’s PowerVR architecture to enable the best playing experience for all of our players.”

Xu Dan, Head of Technical Center, Perfect World Games, says: “Perfect World Games and Imagination have a shared vision for a new generation of GPUs, based on the PowerVR architecture, to achieve high performance and low power consumption. Imagination is an industry leader in ray tracing technology, and we hope to explore the application of this technology in games and other scenarios together.”

Wei Nan, Engine Technical Deputy Director, Tencent Games, says: “Ray tracing is regarded as the next generation of the graphics technology revolution and is the direction that Tencent Games continues to explore. We are very pleased to see Imagination, the industry leader in ray tracing technology, release hardware ray tracing IP. We will work closely to explore the application of this technology in games. Imagination has many years of experience in graphics rendering and processing with high performance and low power consumption. Together, we will strengthen our technical cooperation to achieve a leap in the quality of the gaming experience.”

Awen Cao, Technical Director, Tencent WeTest/PerfDog, says: “As an industry-leading quality service brand, officially established by the Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group, the Tencent WeTest team shares the same vision as Imagination in pursuing high quality at a high level. We believe that the new generation of PowerVR-architecture GPUs, with their high performance and lower power consumption, can help developers achieve better gaming performance. WeTest/Perfdog will work with Imagination to continuously optimise and improve the acquisition of key GPU parameters to support developers to create better gaming experiences and stronger platform compatibility. In the future, both will explore additional cooperation in ray tracing, cloud gaming and other fields.”

Wenyao Li, Senior Technology Expert, NetEase Games, says: “NetEase Games attaches great importance to experience, technology, and quality. NetEase and Imagination have been jointly optimising Messiah and Neox, NetEase’s self-developed engine.  The CXT GPU provides support for achieving a high-quality gaming experience, and in the future, we will take advantage of the high performance and lower power consumption of PowerVR-architecture GPUs in gaming development to create amazing experiences. We’re also looking forward to Imagination’s ray tracing technology, which will open a new era of graphic rendering and vision and hope we can explore its application in games together.”

CXT highlights:

  • Brings desktop-quality ray traced visuals to mobile IP – for the first time!
  • The industry’s first Level 4 RTLS ray tracing architecture
  • Up to 2.5x greater power efficiency than current shipping Level 2/3 RTLS solutions
  • Scalable to desktop and data centre (up to 9TFLOPS FP32 and over 7.8GRay/s)
  • With 50% more compute, texturing, and geometry performance than the previous generation
  • Already licensed for multiple markets

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