Arm to bring Ray Tracing to smartphones with ‘Immortalis’ GPU

Chip designer Arm prepares to launch hardware-based ray tracing to flagship smartphones via a new GPU called the Immortalis-G715.

Company introduced(Opens in a new window) the GPU on Tuesday, calling it a major advancement for mobile gaming graphics. Ray-tracing technology is already common on the latest PC graphics cardsallowing eligible games to display realistic lighting and shadow effects.

Now, Arm says it has designed a GPU that can render the same effects on a smartphone. The company posted a few video clips demonstrating the ray tracing technology in action.

As you can see, the improved lighting and shadowing effects dramatically improve the look of a mobile game by adding realistic details to game environments.

Arm says the biggest challenge with ray tracing is how the technology usually consumes a lot of energy. “However, Ray Tracing on Immortalis-G715(Opens in a new window) uses only 4 percent of the core shader area and delivers more than 300 percent performance gains through hardware acceleration,” the company says.

In particular, Arm has added several special “ray-tracing units” to the GPU, which can be scaled up to 10 to 16 cores.

The design of the chip

The Immortalis-G715 is expected to appear in flagship smartphones in early 2023. “We see this as the foundation for the ecosystem to explore Ray Tracing techniques for their gaming content,” the company added. “This will help prepare you for a full-fledged transition to Ray Tracing on mobile as technology continues to evolve in the coming years.”

The Immortalis-G715 is also designed to: variable speed shadow(Opens in a new window), another feature on existing PC graphics cards. This technique can streamline the pixel shading in a game, freeing up GPU resources to focus on increasing the frame rate.

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“When enabling Variable Rate Shading on game content, we’ve seen improvements of up to 40 percent in frames per second (FPS),” says Arm.

In addition, the Immortalis promises to improve gaming performance on a smartphone by 15% compared to previous generation Arms Mali GPUs. The company has not said which chip companies will adopt the new technology, but in the past both Samsung and MediaTek Arm’s Mali have implemented GPUs in their smartphone chips.

Earlier this year, Samsung also brought hardware-based ray tracing to a smartphone chip in the Exynos 2200, which uses an AMD-developed RDNA 2 GPU. The Korean supplier eventually shipped the chip in some Samsung Galaxy S22 models in Europe, but only one review(Opens in a new window) found that the Exynos 2200 underperformed Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

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