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Imagination unveils ray tracing results

22 Jul 2015  | Jon Peddie

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Those are mighty big claims, especially since ray tracing breaks a SIMD structure almost immediately due to unpredictable branches, and you can only do so much in post.

But Imagination is being clever about ray tracing. They are not ray tracing the whole scene, just the shadows, in what they call a hybrid approach.

Using their technique certain effects such as shadows, reflections and refractions are handled much better in terms of performance and quality by the ray-tracing unit while other elements in the scene can be rasterized, therefore offering developers the best of both worlds.

Overall, Imagination claims they get an average of 50 per cent reduction in memory traffic using ray traced shadows.

Imagination estimates it cut the time in half for processing ray tracing

Imagination estimates it cut the time in half for processing ray tracing.

Looking at total cycle counts, the picture is even better, says the company. They say they are seeing an impressive speed boost from the ray traced shadows. Because the different rendering passes are pipelined in both apps (i.e. the ray traced shadows app and the cascaded shadow maps app) we are unable to separate how many clocks are used for which pass. This is because portions of the GPU are busy executing work for multiple passes at the same time.

That's about as much as Imagination is saying for now. And, don't expect to see any demos at Siggraph because they won't be participating this year. However, Imagination has been around for many years, and they have a reputation for telling it straight, so if they say they can do this, then I'm inclined to believe them. I've had long stimulating conversations with the Caustic team, and I always felt like they got it, no smoke and mirrors were involved.

So we'll have to wait to see if it works, but the wait shouldn't be too long.


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