Imagination, the company behind the PowerVR mobile GPU line, is on site at GDC showing off some of the latest breakthroughs in its mobile GPU performance. Console makers should beware: It looks like mobile graphics capabilities are finally catching up, and perhaps surpassing the current crop of game console GPUs.
To showcase the console-level graphics that the PowerVR Series7XT and Series7XT Plus GPUs can deliver, Imagination created the Dwarf Hall demo in the OpenGL ES 3.1 API. The company said that Dwarf Hall demonstrates the performance of graphics rendered with Physically Based Shaders. Imagination said the scene features soft particles, lens flare effects and dynamic lighting, a “full post-processing pipeline with color correction, saturation, dynamic exposure and HDR tonemapping.” Imagination also said that the demo has “over one million triangles per frame in some scenes.”
Imagination will also be showcasing Sunset Vista, a demo that leans heavily on Vulkan’s graphics and compute pipelines for rendering. The company said the compute shaders simulate leaves falling and blowing in the wind. Vulkan’s graphics API adds the shadow and light maps and translucency effects to the scene.
Imagination is showing the demo at GDC to demonstrate version 4.1 of the PowerVR Graphics SDK, which is being released today. The SDK features support for the Vulkan 1.0 API on Rogue and desktop GPUs. Imagination also set up a dedicated Vulkan page with example code and the latest drivers.
Imagination has a third demonstration being shown at GDC this year, a ray tracing demo running on the PowerVR Wizard GPU. Imagination claimed that the Wizard GPU architecture offers photorealistic image quality with up to 50x better energy and area efficiency compared to desktop GPUs.
Imagination is showcasing some new rendering techniques, including Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS,) which “produces soft-shadows with a variable penumbra” calculated by the ratio between “the size of the light, the blocker and receiver distances from the light source.” The company said that the ray tracing engine inside the PowerVR Wizard GPU makes rendering soft shadows simple and fast.
Imagination is also showing off a new specular reflections rendering technique, which it said will make it easy for developers to add ray-traced reflections to their games. The company said traditional rasterized-only specular reflections are very hard to perform and take a long time to implement, and that self-reflections were simply not possible on mobile devices and consoles. Imagination’s PowerVR Wizard GPUs are able to perform such tasks with incredible efficiency.
Imagination claimed that its demonstration of the technology shows a PowerVR Wizard GPU rendering a ray-traced apartment scene with similar computational performance as a desktop workstation with multiple GPUs installed. The company said the workstation desktop requires “at least an order of magnitude” more power than the Wizard GPU does, in order to achieve the same performance output.