What is ray tracing anyway?
What is ray tracing? The tech that was first popularized on PC games is a technique that focuses on making lighting effects look more realistic. This could show as lighting that better hits a subject based on a scene, or lighting reflections on the ground or in glass.
And is this the first GPU on Android to support it?
As Nvidia succinctly summarizes:
Ray tracing is a method of graphics rendering that simulates the physical behavior of light.
As The Verge points out, Arm already offered ray-tracing support on last year’s Mali-G710 GPU, but it was purely software-based. This is the first time Arm is using hardware-accelerated ray-tracing in a GPU designed for Android devices.
Arm explains, and provided a video demo of ray-tracing in action on the Android-focused GPU.
Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm GPU to offer hardware-based Ray Tracing support designed specifically for mobile. Ray Tracing is a computer graphics technique that generates realistic lighting and shadows by modeling the paths that individual light rays take around a scene. Essentially, this delivers more realistic gaming experiences.
Hardware-based ray tracing is coming to mobile devices. The Immortalis G715 is Arm’s new flagship GPU. It promises a 15% performance uplift over the previous premium Mali GPU and up to a 300% improvement in ray tracing performance thanks to its dedicated hardware.
Details are fairly thin and Arm didn’t present any performance data, though it does plan to hold a webinar on August the 24th to quote: “Learn about the latest graphics features made possible by Immortalis-G715, including hardware-based ray tracing support for more realistic and immersive mobile gaming experiences.” We’ll learn more about Arm’s RT implementation then.
Arm is introducing two new Mali GPUs alongside the 10-core Immortalis. These are the Mali-G715 with 7 to 9 cores and the Mali-G615 with up to 6 cores.
All of the new GPUs support variable rate shading. With VRS, the GPU can allocate resources to more complex parts of the image while rendering less important part of the image with lower fidelity, such as an object in the far background or out of focus. Alongside other architectural improvements, Arm believes the new GPUs will deliver at least a 15% performance improvement over previous generation GPUs.
Mobile gaming is a big business. According to Newzoo’s 2022 Global Games Market Report, mobile gaming makes up 51 percent of the overall gaming market. Games like Fortnite and PUBG have dedicated mobile fanbases, and it’s only a matter of time before the technology’s that PC gamers enjoy filter down into the much more power restricted mobile space.
Ray tracing on mobile still has a long way to go, though the industry has to start somewhere. Samsung’s Exynos 2200 and its Xclipse GPU includes hardware ray tracing acceleration, and surely, it’s only a matter of time before Qualcomm and Apple embrace it too. Momentum is building, but until those two companies include ray tracing hardware, it’s tough to see developers putting too much effort into including ray tracing in mobile games.