Imagination Technologies announces new chips, including a PowerVR GPU and an octo-core SoC

February 25, 2014
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AllWinner A80 octo core

We’ve already heard a little from some of the smartphone market’s big chip makers at this year’s MWC, and now it’s the turn of Imagination Technologies to unveil what it’s been working on recently.

The company has unveiled a wide of chips used in mobile technology, including a new PowerVR GX6650 graphics chip, two new MIPS M5100 and M5150 Warrior M-class processors, a new smartphone image processor, and has also announced a partnership with Allwinner to create the UltraOcta A80 SoC.

PowerVR GX6650 GPU

First up, let’s start with the new graphics chip. The GX6650 is the latest chip in the PowerVR Series6XT family, of which the iPhone 5C’s PowerVR G6430 GPU is a member. The GX6650 is Imagination Technologies’ fastest graphics chip to date, featuring six Unified Shading Clusters totally 192 individual cores. These PowerVR GPUs can be built from anything from half a cluster up to eight, to enable scalability for the widest possible range of applications.

PowerVR GPU_PowerVR GX6650

It’s hard to judge real-world performance at this early stage, but Imagination Tech’s latest chip looks to be a substantial performance upgrade other chips in the same series. The GX6650 offers up 115.2 GFLOPS at 300MHz, whilst the G6430 can only muster 76.8 GFLOPs. Interestingly, the GX6650 appears to match Nvidia’s new Tegra K1 Kepler GPU in many aspects of an on paper comparison, which also manages 115.2 GFLOPS, but this new PowerVR chip appears to have the upper hand when it comes to pixel per clock cycles (ROPs). The GX6650 offers triple the number of the Tegra K1, 12 against 4, which could be a decisive factor when it comes to pushing out higher resolution content, such as 4K video.

Power management an equally important factor for mobile GPUs as performance, and the PowerVR GX6650’s design incorporates the second generation of Imagination’s PVR3C texture, frame-buffer, and geometry compression for higher efficiencies. The new GPU also features PowerGearing G6XT for dynamic power management of the six USCs and other GPU elements, effectively reducing power consumption under lighter loads.

SoftKitty OpenGL ES demo - PowerVR Rogue (1)

Above and beyond hardware performance, the PowerVR GX6650 supports a wide range of graphics APIs, including OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL 1.2 EP, Direct3D 11 10 and 9, OpenGL 3.x, OpenCL, and Renderscript.

This looks like a strong GPU from Imagination Technologies, but we’ll have to wait and see which SoCs and devices, if any, the GX6650 will end up in.

PowerVR V2500 Image Processor

The V2500 is designed with low-power products, such as mobile devices and wearables, in mind, but can easily scale up to cater for Ultra HD video and multi-megapixel photography.

This new image processor operates on just a few milliwatts of power and can easily be incorporated into other SoC designs. It also support all major CMOS sensors, and accommodates stereo, multi-cam, and vision array cameras for volumetric imaging, in a small, single core solution.

PowerVR V2500 imaging processor ISP core

The V2500 is the first imaging processor core based on the PowerVR Raptor architecture which was unveiled last November. Most media processing tasks benefit greatly from close contact, and preferably integration, with dedicated graphics and video processors, and the V2500 can be combined with various PowerVR graphics and video chips for improved media processing capabilities.

MIPS M5100 and M5150

Moving on to some different processor technology, Imagination Technologies has also announced two new Warrior M-Class microprocessors. Whilst not taking on the major processing burden managed by larger and more powerful CPUs, microprocessors are used to perform a range of smaller task all across your smartphone or tablet, and are also important for the low power requirements of the Internet of Things.

A mobile SoC includes more CPUs than you might think, many of them MCUs - See more at: http://withimagination.imgtec.com/index.php/mips-processors/new-mips-m5100-m5150-warrior-m-class-processors-offer-much-32-bit-mcu#sthash.qc43aXW8.dpuf

A mobile SoC includes more CPUs than you might think, many of them MCUs

The key focus with the Series 5 Warrior line-up of chips, especially in the M-Class, is power efficiency and small form factors are increasingly important. The 5100 and M5150 come into their own as they are currently the only MCU-class CPU IP cores that feature hardware virtualization. Other details include a five-stage pipeline, whilst the DSP and SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) engines have 150 dedicated instructions.

We’ll avoid any further tech speak, the important feature here is hardware virtualization, which offers increased security and easier developer implementation for a wide range of applications. With virtualization, multiple, unmodified, operating systems and applications can run independently and securely at the same time on a single, trusted platform.

The MIPS Warrior family will also continue to expand over the next several months, introducing new 32-bit and 64-bit variants too.

Allwinner UltraOcta A80

The final announcement made by Imagination Technology is a SoC developed in partnership with Allwinner. The SoC is called the UltraOcta A80, and as the name suggests, it’s an eight core processor. Just like Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa, the A80 features a big.LITTLE CPU design, built from ARM’s Cortex A15 processor for the main performance tasks.

The A80 will feature a PowerVR G6230 GPU, which contains two USCs totalling 64 graphics cores. Whilst the won’t provide anywhere near as much horsepower as Imagination Technologies’ new GX6650, the G6230 only offers 38.4 GFLOPS at 300MHz and 4 ROPs, this combination with the power efficient heterogeneous multiprocessing big.LITTLE design could offer a compelling solution for mobile devices with limited battery capacity. Previous Allwinner SoCs have proven successful in emerging markets and low cost devices, but this chip may be Allwinners move into the mid/high end of the market.

A80-Diagram-PowerVR-G6230-Final

That wraps up all the new from Imagination Technologies today.

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