PowerVR Ray Tracing

PowerVR Ray Tracing is a revolutionary technology that enables lightning fast ray tracing for GPUs and SoCs. This game-changing technology enables astonishing realism as well as allowing developers and content creators to simplify their workflow.

PowerVR ray tracing graphics IP enables more immersive games and apps with real-life dynamic lighting models that produce advanced lighting effects, dynamic soft shadows, and life-like reflections and transparencies, previously unachievable in an efficient real-time device.

PowerVR ray tracing is highly scalable, making it potentially disruptive to many markets from mobile to high-end gaming and the creative arts.

Through the advanced architecture of PowerVR ray tracing multiple ray tracing engines and shaders can operate concurrently to ensure real world sustained performance for both ray tracing and shading.

All PowerVR ray tracing IP is designed to provide leading support for a range of APIs such as OpenGL ES 3.x, OpenGL 3.x, Direct3D 11 Level 10_0, and OpenCL 1.x so developers can use ray tracing without extensive new learning.

Why use ray tracing?

The main use for PowerVR ray tracing in rendering is to accurately simulate the transport of light. In 3D graphics, rendering a surface means looking at how much of a scene is visible to the camera. The physics of light dictate that the properties of a surface are not enough for a correct and realistic renderer; one needs to know the properties of the entire scene.


Ray tracing is a powerful tool that offers an innate understanding of light. Therefore, some effects are more efficiently computed with ray tracing than using state of the art raster techniques.

The examples below highlight some of the most common use cases for ray tracing.

Pre-baked lighting

The most common use case for ray tracing today is to support pre-baked lighting in the form of lightmaps or light probes.  Leveraging PowerVR ray tracing enables light maps to be baked in near real-time.

With this technology, artists can continue to iterate and refine the look of a level while final lightmaps update and bake in the background, dramatically decreasing the amount of time needed to make artistic adjustments to scenes.

Hybrid rendering

Furthermore, it is possible to create a hybrid rendering system where an incremental scanline algorithm is used for visibility determination but PowerVR ray tracing can be selectively added in order to implement specific effects.

This method benefits from the fact that only visible pixels will cast rays but it also means that the developer has the choice of casting rays only for selected objects and can therefore easily control how effects are used and where the ray budget is spent. It can also be very easily fitted into existing game engine runtimes so that workflow remains the same and investment in all existing game assets is preserved.

We have many years’ experience creating ray tracing technology and are ready to have discussions with interested parties to discuss the various ways our IP can bring ray tracing to market in power-constrained devices, in the smartphone, VR/AR, console and automotive markets.

If you want to build next-generation graphics hardware in an energy efficient and cost-effective way, then you need to talk to the experts in power efficiency. Working together, we will not only be able to finally grasp the ‘holy grail’ of graphics but deliver it to an eager audience that’s ready for 3D graphics to move on to the next stage of immersion and realism.

Ray Tracing News from Imagination

Series8XT AR/VR Banner

Imagination Technologies: the ray tracing pioneers

After a period out of the spotlight, ray tracing technology has recently come back into focus, taking up a lot of column inches in the tech press. The primary reason is because graphics cards for the PC gaming market have

ray tracing wizard

Video: ray tracing with the PowerVR Wizard architecture

Imagination is known for its chip IP for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and has a strong reputation as a market leader with regards to performance, power and area. Complementing this, Imagination also has IP related to ray