Nvidia does not have plans to bring its ray tracing-enabled GPU architectures to smartphones or other ultra-mobile devices right now, CEO Jensen Huang told journalists at a Computex meeting this week. The statements come just days after AMD confirmed that upcoming Samsung smartphones using AMD RDNA2 GPU architecture will support ray tracing.
According to Huang, the time for ray tracing in mobile gadgets hasn’t arrived yet.
“Ray tracing games are quite large, to be honest,” Huang said, according to ZDNet. “The data set is quite large, and there will be a time for it. When the time is right we might consider it.”
AMD, meanwhile, has licensed its RDNA2 architecture, which supports ray tracing, to Samsung for use in the upcoming Exynos 2200 SoC expected to power its laptops and other flagship mobile devices. AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su said this week that the SoC will indeed support ray tracing.
“The next place you’ll find RDNA2 will be the high-performance mobile phone market,” Su said, as reported by AnandTech. “AMD has partnered with industry leader Samsung to accelerate graphics innovation in the mobile market, and we’re happy to announce we will bring custom graphics IP to Samsung’s next flagship SoC, with ray tracing and variable rate shading capabilities. We’re really looking forward to Samsung providing more details later this year.”
Currently, Samsung’s Exynos-powered smartphones use Arm Mali-powered graphics; whereas, Qualcomm Snapdragon-based handsets use Adreno GPUs.
Nvidia is in process of taking over Arm, which develops general-purpose Cortex CPU cores as well as Mali graphics processing units for various system-on-chips (SoCs). Nvidia has long tried to license its GeForce technologies to designers of mobile SoCs and devices without any tangible success. If Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm is approved by various regulators, Nvidia will be able to offer its latest GeForce architectures to Arm licensees. Yet, it appears Nvidia has no immediate plans to bring GeForce RTX to smartphones.
Nvidia’s Ampere and Turing architectures seem to be too bulky for smartphone SoCs (and even for entry-level PC graphics) anyway. For now, the company will have to use its GeForce Now game streaming service to address demanding gamers on smartphones and tablets.
“That’s how we would like to reach Android devices, Chrome devices, iOS devices, MacOS devices, Linux devices — all kinds of devices, whether it’s on TV, or mobile device or PC,” said Huang. “I think that for us, right now, that is the best strategy.”
Yet, ray tracing is nothing new on mobiles. Imagination Technologies architectures since the PowerVR GR6500 introduced in 2014 have supported ray tracing, so it’s up to hardware designers to decide on implementing the capability and game designers to leverage it. Imagination’s PowerVR ray tracing implementation is currently supported by Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5, but it’s unclear whether it’s primarily used for eye candy, performance increase and/or power reduction.