It seems Vivante may have just beaten Samsung to the punch in terms of releasing a mobile GPU that has support for the latest GPU specifications like OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.1. Vivante’s GPUs are usually found in SoC platforms from companies we don’t hear much about, like Freescale and Marvell (which powers the latest Vizio Co-Star Google TV).
As a promoter and contributor in the Khronos OpenGL ES Working Group, Freescale worked closely with Vivante and committee members to define the next generation graphics API, which is expected to offer highly advanced graphics innovations to current and upcoming mobile and consumer devices. -Rajeev Kumar, i.MX product line manager for Freescale Semiconductor
The new OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics specification will help developers create mobile games that look a lot more advanced and more similar to what we can see on consoles or PCs. Next-gen GPUs will be able to even surpass consoles in performance, but they also need the necessary graphics features to create amazing looking games with impressive visuals.
Vivante GC Core series, starting with GC800 series and higher, will include OpenGL ES 3.0 features such as:
- Updating the shader and GPU pipelines to include support of occlusion queries, transform feedback, instanced rendering, support of four / eight render targets, and OpenCL – ES3.0 interoperability to simultaneously support multiple contexts of graphics and GPU compute.
- Support of new texture compression (ETC2 / EAC) and pixel formats included in the specification.
- Support of the latest GLSL ES shading language including signed / unsigned 32-bit and 16-bit INT and FP operations based on IEEE-754 precision requirements.
- Additional features include support for 3D textures, texture arrays, sRGB textures, R/RG textures, NPOT textures, FP textures, depth textures, vertex textures, seamless cube maps, and sampler objects.
Vivante’s new GPUs will also be built on a unified shader architecture, which should help maintain a similar level of performance for games that are more pixel shader intensive or for the ones that are more vertex shader intensive, with no compromises.
The new Vivante GPUs also includes a bunch of new hardware features, such as:
- Unified Scalable Shader Architecture: Multi-core GPUs with parallel shaders for optimal load balancing and concurrent GPU – GPGPU context support
- GPU Compute: OpenCL, Rendersript, GLSL, and HLSL API and language support for unrestricted programmability
- Single / Double Precision Arithmetic Formats: Pipelined FP (IEEE-754) and INT 32-bit and 64-bit formats for high precision Compute and HDR graphics
- Scalable Compute Performance: Cores designed to run from hundreds of GFLOPS up to 1 TFLOP in various multicore versions
- Battery Saving Innovations: Extreme low power microarchitecture for leading mW per MHz/GHz
- New Compression Formats: Support of the latest compression standards including the recently announced Khronos ASTC™ – Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression extension
- Heterogeneous Platform Architecture: GC cores designed for hybrid computing systems using AMBA® ACE-Lite™ (CPU – GPU cache coherency) and the latest Stream Interface
While not as known as Mali or Tegra’s GPUs, it seems Vivante has built some solid products here, that are future proof and seem very competitive with anything else on the market, although we can’t be sure of that until we see some real benchmarks. However, the GPU’s look promising, and I’m glad companies are so aggressive about pushing OpenGL ES 3.0 chips into the market, because there more there are out there, the faster developers will start making games specifically for it.