Published in Graphics

Imagination announces Wizard architecture


 
Ray tracing on board

Imagination Technologies has announced a new graphics architecture, dubbed Wizard. The first GPUs based on the new architecture are expected in 2015 and beyond. They will pack a few very interesting features and unlock more potential for mobile developers.

Wizard supports better lighting effects, transparencies and ray tracing. This means it can render much more realistic scenes with plenty of reflections and transparent objects, such as glass objects, water and so on. Ray tracing adds another level of realism thanks to accurate ray-traced shadows. Ray tracing and rasterization will be used in unison, bringing more realism without demand too much in the way of hardware resources.

"For the better part of the last eight years, we have been busy developing unique hardware and software technologies to radically lower the cost and dramatically increase the efficiency and performance of ray tracing," Imagination said.

The company believes Wizard will bring a new level of highly photorealistic graphics to mobile devices and other low-power platforms.

However, we are not entirely sure about the use of hybrid ray trace and rasterization. Small developers might not like the idea very much, since it will entail a lot more work. This is especially true of Android's fragmented landscape, but things should be different in the iOS universe, provided Apple keeps using Imagination GPUs which it probably will.

Using a hybrid approach makes perfect sense, as it allows developers to effectively bake textures and thus reduce the load and get the most out of hardware resources, but it also translates into more work. Still, it's better than nothing - a pure ray tracing model simply would not work on today's mobile GPUs, as they simply lack the muscle needed to handle it. It's a step in the right direction, but at the same time it illustrates why mobile graphics still can't come close to what we've had for years in consoles and PCs.

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