Ray tracing is an ace in the hole for next-gen games consoles, but Sony isn’t about to rest on its laurels with one of the PS5 console’s most impressive graphical features.
Sony has been granted a patent for accelerated ray tracing, which will remove some pressure from the graphics chip, while reducing the rendering time on shaded visuals. If you’re unfamiliar, ray tracing offers a more realistic reproduction of the way light behaves in terms of reflections and shadows in video games.
This patent in question could eventually allow the ray tracing to be switched on without compromising frame rate and top resolution, and enable more top PS5 games to utilise the standout feature throughout the game.
The patent (via The Gamer), awarded to PS5 architect Mark Cerny is called “System and Method For Accelerated Ray Tracing and System And Method For Accelerated Ray Tracing With Asynchronous Operation And Ray Transformation.” It suggests that the burden currently handled by the GPU could be offset by dedicated ray tracing unit (RTU) hardware, thus speeding things up.
In typically obtrusive language, the patent explains: “The RTU implements traversal logic to traverse the acceleration structure including transformation of rays as needed to account for variations in coordinate space between levels, stack management, and other tasks to relieve burden on the shader, communicating intersections to the shader which then calculates whether the intersection hit a transparent or opaque portion of the object intersected.
“Thus, one or more processing cores within the GPU perform accelerated ray tracing by offloading aspects of processing to the RTU, which traverses the acceleration structure within which the 3D environment is represented.”
Whether this would require a slight redesign of the PS5’s hardware in order to achieve the goals of the patent remains to be seen. It may be that we see this patent brought to life if and when Sony decides to launch a PS5 Pro in the years to come.