Mark Cerny’s new patent could reveal plans to ‘accelerate’ ray-tracing on PS5

Sony Interactive Entertainment has filed a new patent that suggests it’s looking to improve the performance of PlayStation 5 games when using ray-traced lighting.

Filed this week (as spotted by a Twitter user) and credited to PS5 and PS4 engineer Mark Cerny, the patent is titled, “system and method for accelerated ray tracing with asynchronous operation and ray transformation”.

The patent describes a system that uses shader processors to shorten rays, thus increasing overall performance when ray-tracing is turned on.

“Tea [described] processing strategy may result in a significant improvement of ray tracing speed, as the shader program is only performing hit testing,” the patent reads.

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Real-time ray tracing – which allows for the realistic simulation of light and reflections, similar to those seen in CGI movies – is the flagship visual feature of new-gen consoles PS5 and Xbox Series X and modern PC GPUs.

Currently, many PlayStation 5 games such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart offer ray-tracing modes. However, these modes come with the trade off of reduced frame rates and lower resolutions in order to facilitate the significant power required for the effect.

Other graphically intense titles such as the upcoming Gran Tursimo 7 aren’t able to enable ray-tracing at all during gameplay, with the racer opting to limit the lighting feature to replays and Garage mode.

On PC, Nvidia’s RTX video cards offer hardware-accelerated ray-tracing that has seen the feature widely adopted by many modern games.

Mark Cerny's new patent could reveal plans to 'accelerate' ray-tracing on PS5
A diagram included in Sony’s ray-tracing patent.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has filed several notable patents over the last few years. They include one for an AI voice assistant called PlayStation Assist, and a system which would enable players to leave in-game text, image and audio tips for other users.

Another PlayStation patent described an ‘Uber-style’ real-time help service which would enable users to call in expert players to guide them through challenging game sequences.

More recently, Sony Interactive Entertainment successfully patented the path-building mechanic featured in Death Stranding, and patented what appears to be a PlayStation controller designed for mobile gaming.