|Imagine Technologies, the company that provides graphics subsystems used in Apple's iPhone and iPad processors as well as other GPUs, has announced a new version of the PowerVR graphics architecture, called "Wizard," that adds realism and better lighting and transparency effects to graphics by using selected ray-tracing effects alongside traditional rasterization. The technology is already supported in the just-announced Unity 5 gaming engine.
Apple and other companies that rely on PowerVR graphics as part of their mobile chips are likely to incorporate the new technology into future smartphone and tablet designs. Wizard graphics are able to add increasingly photo-realistic recognition of all light sources from all angles, shadowing and much-improved transparency to traditional rasterized graphics -- creating a hybrid look that behaves more realistically, particularly in motion. Apple owns 10 percent of Imagination Technologies, making them an all-but-certain client.
"For the better part of the last eight years, we have been busy developing unique hardware and software technologies to radically lower the cost and dramatically increase the efficiency and performance of ray tracing," the company said in a statement. "The PowerVR Wizard GPU family … opens up the potential of highly photorealistic, computer-generated imagery to a host of new real-time applications and markets not previously possible."
The Wizard GPUs announced today will likely be part of products in the 2015 product cycle, rather than any new smartphones or tablets from Apple expected this year, like the next iPhone and iPad -- however as a minority investor, the company may try to win an early advantage in its premium models by negotiating for exclusive access to early runs of the products.