Imagination Technologies is the company behind Apple’s GPU processors , responsible for the excellent graphics that we can enjoy on an iPhone or iPad. Apple currently uses its PowerVR G6430 GPU in the A7 that powers the iPhone 5s, iPad mini with Retina display and iPAd Air, and during the MWC we saw what will clearly be the GPU Apple will use in its A8 chip, a GPU with 192 cores.
But Imagination Technologies continues to work on new developments, and today has announced its next step, a new version of its PowerVR graphics architecture that includes ray tracing technology .
The ray tracing, explained quickly, is a 3D graphics rendering technique with more natural and complex lighting models to achieve cinematic quality images and a level of photographic realism that cannot be achieved with traditional graphics techniques. So, what does this achieve? The change is substantial, providing more realistic lighting and shadows, taking mobile GPUs one step further by bringing ray tracing to mobile devices.
This new family of GPUs is an extension of the 6XT Series profiled last month during the MWC, a combination of ray tracing with traditional raster graphics , forming a hybrid model that maintains the benefits of rasterization while including the benefits of ray tracing. The change, using ray tracing, as we can see in the following images, is substantial.
Apple has not explicitly said that they are interested in these new GPUs, but since the first iPhone came out in 2007 they have been using Imagination Technology GPUs in all their devices, and even owning approximately 10 percent of the shares, so everything points to us seeing these new GPUs in some model sooner or later.
With respect to timing, the new family of GPUs will not be available until 2015 , so they are ruled out for the new, or new, iPhone, but they could be one of the highlights of the next generation, as the jump in quality is overwhelming.
The leap in quality that this GPU will bring in order to develop ever higher quality games that are closer to those of portable consoles is enormous. With iOS drivers and a growing portfolio of higher quality games, mobile platforms are on the way to outperforming and even burying traditional handheld consoles .
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