Imagination’s IMG DXT GPU unlocks scalable, premium ray tracing for all mobile gamers

Imagination Technologies launches IMG DXT, a groundbreaking ray tracing GPU that scales to unlock cutting-edge graphics for all mobile device users.

London, England – 11th January 2023Imagination Technologies launches IMG DXT, a groundbreaking ray tracing GPU that scales to unlock cutting-edge graphics for all mobile device users.

The first in the D-Series family, IMG DXT offers mobile device manufacturers the chance to integrate ray tracing into their SoCs to match their design goals, from premium to mainstream devices.

The market volume addressable by mobile ray tracing to date has been small. IMG DXT enables ray tracing to become a mainstream technology, justifying the interest and investment of mobile game developers and OEMs.

The GPU scales from an area-efficient half ray acceleration cluster (RAC) configuration up to a high-performance four-RAC design – covering a wide range of applications, from simple shadowing in hybrid implementations to premium ray-traced graphics for AAA content.

With support for Fragment Shading Rate (FSR) for Vulkan®, IMG DXT frees up performance headroom for developers. FSR decreases the number of fragments processed and significantly increases graphics performance with minimal impact on visual quality. At the same time, FSR makes ray-traced effects more efficient as fewer rays are sent into the scene, meaning realistic lights and shadows are achieved within a smaller silicon area.

The flagship DXT-72-2304 configuration delivers the performance demanded by ultra-premium mobile devices, delivering 72 GTexels/s and 2.5 TFLOPs of FP32 arithmetic performance, with a 50% higher maximum single-core performance compared to the previous generation. DXT cores offer 20% better performance density per area than the IMG CXT GPUs, while significantly reducing power requirements.

David Harold, Chief Marketing Officer, Imagination says: “The growing mobile gaming market comes with a demand to balance low-power use against the desire for realistic and immersive graphics. As industry leaders in efficient ray tracing for mobile, we are accelerating ray tracing adoption and driving ecosystem growth. Last year, we launched and licensed the first mobile ray-tracing GPU. Our new scalable IMG DXT cores work at multiple levels of implementation, starting with basic graphics integrations, up to flagship SoCs with desktop-level ray-traced visuals. The mobile GPU launches today, and we have already licensed the IP in multiple segments. We are also speaking with lead partners in automotive, desktop and data centre.”

Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst, ABI Research, says: “Mobile gaming’s accessibility and immediacy has driven it to become the largest gaming platform today and into the future. A key driver has been the crossover from PC and console games to mobile platforms, closing the gap in types of gaming and quality of experience, engendering a clear market need for delivering high-performing devices that can balance graphics output within limited mobile power budgets. Ray tracing, once the domain of premium PC gaming has trickled down to current gen consoles creating a prime opportunity for OEMs to bring efficient graphics with ray tracing to mobile devices, giving them a competitive edge and further bringing parity to the gaming market. Imagination is leading mobile GPU innovation, paving the way in democratising high-end graphics with its Photon ray tracing architecture. It’s latest DXT GPU is a contender to watch in this space.”

Dr Jon Peddie, President and Founder, Jon Peddie Research, says: “Imagination has a 20-year track record in mobile GPU development, and it is unsurprising that its PowerVR architecture continues to hold a considerable mobile market share. It will be exciting to see how far DXT’s scalable cores will push mobile ray tracing, especially for lower- and mid-range devices. The industry is full of potential for this technology, not just for smartphone gaming, but also for XR, robotics and automotive applications – where efficiency and performance go hand in hand.”

Ray tracing for everyone

The IMG DXT GPU comes in several configurations and performance points. Mainstream device manufacturers looking to differentiate their offerings can choose the area-efficient half-sized ray acceleration cluster (RAC) configuration. OEMs looking for advanced performance can select from a single, dual, or quad-RAC configuration for the ultimate mobile visual experience.

DXT’s Photon architecture is the only ray tracing design that sits at Level 4 on the Ray Tracing Levels System (RTLS), which means it delivers its market-leading visuals in the most power-efficient manner available in the industry. Imagination’s ray tracing solutions sit at Level 4 regardless of RAC configuration, ensuring DXT offers usable ray tracing at up to 40% lower area cost, compared to the same mobile configuration as CXT.

Fragment Shading Rate (FSR) for Vulkan®

The fragment shader in a GPU draws the colours from a scene onto the framebuffer. FSR is a technique where the number of times the fragment shader runs is reduced with almost no decrease in image quality as a result. This cuts bandwidth usage and lowers power consumption. Developers control how aggressively FSR is used, the most extreme mode executes the shader code only once for a 4×4 fragment zone, resulting in a near 94% reduction in workload with matching power and bandwidth benefits. The performance this frees up enables developers to do more with the hardware and offers players a higher-quality gaming experience.

2D Dual-Rate Texturing

Many cutting-edge games rely on heavy texture sampling to implement advanced filter effects. The IMG DXT GPU has an innovative patented special mode inside its texture processing unit (TPU) that creates a “fast path” for these post-processing effects. The result is a near doubling of bilinear filtering performance with minimal area growth and an overall reduction in power consumption. It accelerates tasks such as post-processing effects in games and computational photography filter processing. The higher throughput of the GPU also enables improved ray-traced image quality through faster and more power-efficient denoising algorithms.

Industry feedback

Hansen Hong, Director of Software Technology Planning, OPPO, says: “Imagination is a partner of OPPO in O3DF’s Mobile Device Working Group and we are working closely together to optimise performance for next-gen GPU architectures. IMG DXT brings new opportunities to integrate market-leading, realistic graphics across smartphone ranges, unlocking ray tracing and FSR for more mobile gamers. We look forward to working with Imagination on building out the O3DE mobile renderer and enabling developers to take full advantage of this game-changing, open-source technology.”

Royal O’Brien, General Manager of Digital Media and Games, O3DE, says: “The members and community have been focusing on optimising and reducing the footprint of O3DE’s mobile code. O3DE and open source is shaping the future of mobile gaming by delivering high-quality entertainment experiences to users across device segments. Developers can freely access next-generation ray tracing through the collaboration of the community and partners such as Imagination under the Apache 2.0 licensed open-source Open 3D Engine. With the new capabilities and launch of the new IMG DXT GPU, we are excited to see what developers build, as this brings the same innovative ray tracing to mainstream mobile segments, opening the doors to premium gaming graphics for even more players.”

Rui LI (Marcus), Technical Expert, Timi Studio, Tencent Games, says: “Ray tracing is revolutionising immersion, enabling developers to create graphically compelling games that offer users unique visual experiences every time they play. A key challenge for mobile gaming is packing all that processing power into a small area of silicon. Imagination has spearheaded the ray tracing revolution for mobile devices, and we’re excited for the launch of the new DXT GPU, which scales the PowerVR architecture to lower silicon footprints for maximum graphical output. We will continue working closely with Imagination to shape the future of mobile gaming.”

Jian Cong Huang, Principal Engineer, Tech Center of LightSpeed Studios, Tencent Games, says: “For gaming graphics and rendering, ray tracing is the most expected technology, enabling developers to design and create highly realistic worlds. We are always looking to work with the most technologically advanced solutions in the world, to break through the unique challenges in mobile game design. The launch of Imagination’s new DXT GPU, we believe, will help developers design a better graphical experience on an efficient power budget. We are working with Imagination closely, hoping to dive deeper into ray tracing and other new GPU technologies in the future.”

Travis Boatman, CEO, Carbonated Inc, says: “Founded by veterans of the gaming industry, Carbonated’s mission is to create truly immersive, edge-of-your-seat, multiplayer mobile games. Delivering real-time PVP action requires a highly efficient and high-performing GPU architecture that doesn’t compromise on graphics experience, even on smartphone power budgets. Imagination’s new DTX GPU is set to deliver scalable, industry-leading mobile ray tracing, as it allows developers to deliver high-octane 3D graphics starting from mainstream and up to flagship devices.”

Qi Hu LIN, Senior Technical Expert, NetEase Games, says: “At NetEase, we prioritise quality in gaming as the foundation for delivering exceptional experiences. In partnership with Imagination, we have optimised our games for both Messiah and our proprietary NeoX engine. By working closely together, we aim to empower developers to use PowerVR’s high performance and energy efficiency to create incredible gaming experiences for players. With Imagination’s IMG DXT GPU, we are bringing industry-leading mobile ray tracing to the mainstream, enabling immersive graphics for a wider audience.”

Improved texture and compute performance

The IMG DXT GPU features a new shader processing unit (SPU) design. The SPU is a silicon block that contains both an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) for compute tasks and a texture processing unit (TPU) for shading pixels, geometry processing and rasterisation logic.

The DXT GPU delivers 50% more top-end compute and texture (ALU/TPU) performance per SPU, thanks to a new triple Universal Shader Cluster (USC) design (3x ALU/TPU units), where previous architectures focused only on a dual-USC design (2x ALU/TPU units). This improved building block enables the creation of Imagination’s highest-performance premium mobile GPU, the DXT-72-2304, which boasts 72 GTexels/s and 2.5 TFLOPs FP32 at a clock frequency of 1 GHz.

Advanced software support

Imagination continues to offer optimal performance for its GPU products with its award-winning PowerVR SDK and developer tools. The DDK enables ray tracing capabilities across the stack – with Vulkan RT support included.

DXT includes support for a wider range of compression technologies to maximise bandwidth efficiency. This includes Khronos ASTC HDR, enabling textures to have a greater dynamic range between bright and dark areas while retaining detail.

Committed to RISC-V

Imagination shows an ongoing commitment to RISC-V across its product line. Featuring a new RISC-V compliant firmware processor, already proven in its automotive BXS range, DXT offers up to 40% firmware performance gains. IMG DXT also benefits from RISC-V power domain features with a focus on reducing its idle power, turning off parts of the GPU that are not in use, and optimising performance on casual workloads.

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