Photo-Realistic 3D Graphics Coming to iOS
The company that provides graphics chips for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch has just bought another company
that is known for its photo-realistic 3D graphics technology. Imagination Technologies says that it is definitely going to bring the cutting-edge ray tracing technologies it's getting from Caustic Graphics into its mobile products, which means that iDevices are going to see a significant improvement in their graphics capability.
Hossein Yassaie, chief executive of the UK-based Imagination Technologies, said his company's £17 million ($27 million US) acquisition of San Francisco's Caustic Graphics would bring "Avatar-style graphics
" to smartphones, game consoles and TVs within a few years. "Today, 3D graphics don't look like the real thing," he said. "But Caustic's technology is different... these are photo-realistic images." It's Caustic's ability to do high-end ray tracing - more sophisticated lighting effects with reflection, refraction, and scattering that usually require a dedicated non-real-time processor - in a way that can be implemented on a lower-power mobile chip that drew Imagination's attention. Imagination Technologies PR Director David Harold said in an interview with TechRadar
that "ray tracing is a key additional technology that traditionally has been regarded as the exclusive domain of specialised markets and non real-time applications. We will change that." Caustic Graphics developed the OpenRL SDK, a cross-platform, industry-standard programming API that layers ray tracing extensions on top of the OpenGL and OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) APIs.
Apple owns a 9.5% share in Imagination, which designed the PowerVR SGX graphics processor inside the A4, and it's clear that the revolutionary graphics will be coming to an iDevice in the future. "We would not have acquired [Caustic] technology," Yassaie said, "if we did not believe we could get it into handsets."