PowerVR Meetup – Unity, University, and the IMG A-Series

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Update 28/01:

We have now released the presentation from this Meetup. It can be found here:

Additionally, for anyone who missed out we’ve also got a recording of the presentation which is available online.

We had our very first PowerVR Meetup last week on 16th January. It was a fantastic success with some deep and informative talks, a lively and engaged audience, and a nice bit of food on the side.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the event including what the presentations were about, the venue, and some of the response and feedback.

Arriving at the Meetup – The Parcel Yard

The venue for this Meetup was The Parcel Yard. It’s a pub that’s actually inside King’s Cross and may be familiar to some who have been looking for a nice meal or a drink while travelling through the station.

We arrived at the venue around 6 o’clock, so just at the peak of rush hour in London. This was great as the pub was packed with the hustle and bustle of the city and had a fantastic lively atmosphere. The event itself was in a private function room in the back of the venue called ‘The Station Master’s Office’ which overlooked platforms 0 to 7. It was a cosy room with a lot of character and was the perfect size for our first Meetup. Everybody had enough room, but the speakers didn’t have to shout to reach people at the back. It really facilitated great conversation when everyone was chatting later.

PowerVR Meetup Wide

First Talk – The Unity High Definition Render Pipeline

The first person to take to the stage was Marton Tamas, the head of Developer Support in Developer Technology. He welcomed everyone and gave a brief introduction to the events of the evening.

Next up was Dihara Wijetunga, an engineer in the Developer Support team, who was giving the main talk of the evening on the Unity High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP). For those of you who aren’t aware, the Unity HDRP is a scriptable render pipeline which is (unsurprisingly!) available as part of the Unity game engine. Currently, HDRP projects can be deployed to desktop and consoles, but support for mobile (Android and iOS) should be coming in the near future.

Dihara had the colossal task of trying to condense all of his research and knowledge about the Unity HDRP into an hour slot for his talk.

marton dihara photo

Now, this may not seem too difficult on the face of it, however bear in mind this pipeline implements upwards of 20 different, complex graphics techniques, including:

  • Physically-based rendering with iridescence, anisotropy, translucency, and sub-surface scattering
  • Volumetric Lighting
  • Screen space deferred decals
  • Motion blur
  • Depth of field
  • Screen space reflections
  • And more…

Each of these techniques contains numerous passes as well as a huge amount of algorithmic and technical wizardry, so it takes a lot of work to produce a coherent summary.

Dihara started with a comparison of the HDRP with the existing Unity pipelines: the built-in pipeline and the Universal Render Pipeline. It was clear that the HDRP comes out on top if you’re looking to create high-end, AAA-quality games in Unity, as it supports all modern rendering APIs, like Vulkan and DX12, and implements cutting edge, real-time rendering techniques.

Next, he ran through the most interesting features of the pipeline, including light culling, physically-based rendering, volumetric lighting, screen space deferred decals, and post processing. He explained how these features were implemented and gave an idea of what the final results look like.

Finally, at the end of the talk there was a quick Q&A. The questions were mostly focussed on how Unity plans to port this pipeline to mobile devices and particularly how well it will run (we’ll let you know as soon as we hear any news on this front!).

We got to chat about all things graphics related with plenty of like-minded engineers from the graphics and games industry. The food and drinks were great and it was a nice, cosy venue too. Overall it was a really successful Meetup!

Dihara Wijetunga, Developer Technology Engineer

For more information about the Unity HDRP and Dihara take a look at this blog post: The Unity High Definition Render Pipeline – PowerVR Meetup

Intermission – Robert Owen on the Imagination University Programme

As a bit of a break from the heavier graphics stuff, we moved from Unity to university. Robert Owen gave a brief talk about the Imagination University Programme. He outlined how this programme is working to improve graphics knowledge amongst current university students so they are better prepared to work in the graphics and games industries. The programme provides teaching materials for students and academics, as well as video tutorials, textbook suggestions, forum support, and development hardware recommendations. It’s a great way to support the graphics developers of the future.

Great to see the enthusiasm of the expert developers at our Meetup!

I took the opportunity to highlight some of the things that we are doing to improve the teaching of graphics at universities. I wasn’t sure if this was of interest, but the reactions afterwards showed how much today’s developers care about the education of their next generation.

Robert Owen, Director of the Imagination University Programme

The teaching materials for the Introduction to Mobile Graphics course are available online, so if you’re a student or academic why not register and take a look?

University Programme Talk

Final Talk – Introducing the IMG A-Series

Finally, Marton gave a talk on Imagination’s next generation GPU IP – the IMG A-Series, which was only just announced in December 2019. His talk covered some of the most exciting features of the new design including:

  • A redesigned ALU which is focused on high utilisation and easier optimisation
  • An improved texture pipeline that has been optimised for high-end games
  • Hardware accelerated blending with a new dedicated blending unit
  • Support for Tile Heatmap Visualisation to identify expensive parts of a frame

He explained the competitive advantage the A-Series has over anything else on the market as well as any of the previous generations of PowerVR GPUs. Also, he described the architecture changes which made the increase in performance density possible.

As a final note, he showed off the roadmap of future GPU IP from Imagination, starting in 2019 with IMG A-Series, IMG B-Series in 2020, and so on. Each successive generation should give an increase in performance density of 30% on the previous generation. This included a hint of ray tracing capabilities coming to Imagination GPUs very soon.

IMG A-Series Talk

The audience was very engaged with this talk and excited about the possibilities of the A-Series. During the Q&A there was plenty of discussion and questions, with a number of developers really interested in the potential of the A-Series and wanting to know the benefits for graphics developers.

Food and Networking

After all of the talks, there was an opportunity to chat and network, as well as get our hands on the food. It was a fantastic atmosphere, as developers from across the industry were happy to chat and discuss various topics in a relaxed environment.

Meetup Food

Meetup Networking

More Meetup networking

It seemed like everyone had a great time with some attendees staying to chat until 11pm. We also had some great feedback on social media

Interested?

If you like the sound of this Meetup then don’t miss the next one. You can join the PowerVR Meetup group here and we’ll send you a reminder next time we’ve got a Meetup organised.

If you’re looking for more Developer Technology-related news, follow @tom_devtech on Twitter, or for more general PowerVR news, take a look at @powervrinsider.

Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is a graduate technical author in the PowerVR Developer Technology team at Imagination. He is responsible for producing documentation to support the PowerVR SDK and Tools, including user manuals and guides. Outside of this, you will probably find him cycling up a hill that is far too steep or catching up on the latest PC game releases.

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