Imagination Technologies keeps pushing its hardware-accelerated ray tracing, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the company showed off new demos running on its PowerVR GR6500 GPU. PC Perspective reports the demos used a modified Unify 5 engine and showed off several cool light effects.
Whether we'll see ray-tracing anytime soon in video games remains to be seen, it enables the rendering of very realistic lighting but the performance hit is so big that real-time ray tracing is still elusive.
This graphics processor has dedicated circuitry to calculate rays, and they use it in a couple of different ways. They presented several demos that modified Unity 5 to take advantage of their ray tracing hardware. One particularly interesting one was their quick, seven second video that added ray traced reflections atop an otherwise rasterized scene. It was a little too smooth, creating reflections that were too glossy, but that could probably be downplayed in the material. Back when I was working on a GPU-accelerated software renderer, before Mantle, Vulkan, and DirectX 12, I was hoping to use OpenCL-based ray traced highlights on idle GPUs, if I didn't have any other purposes for it. Now though, those can be exposed to graphics APIs directly, so they might not be so idle.