While high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9 have been getting their fair share of the news cycle, there have also been some interesting developments related to the low-end smartphone market. Imagination, the makers of PowerVR GPUs and various MIPS processors, has introduced a new OpenGL ES 3.0 capable GPU that is designed specifically for sub-$100 smartphones, as well as other markets like the Internet of Things (IoT).
Imagination’s existing GPU for wearables and low-end smartphones is the PowerVR GX5300, a chip based on Imagination’s PowerVR Series5 family of GPUs. The new GPU, the PowerVR G6020, is the smallest graphics processor from Imagination’s Series6XE family. It offers up to twice the performance while also improving battery life. While the PowerVR GX5300 supported OpenGL ES 2.0, the PowerVR G6020 supports OpenGL ES 3.0 and can power 720p displays at 60 fps.
OpenGL ES is a subset of the full OpenGL graphics API that is aimed specifically at Embedded Systems (hence the “ES”). It can be used for rendering 2D and 3D computer graphics, typically via a GPU. Android has fully supported OpenGL ES 3.0 since Android 4.3. OpenGL ES 3.0 is also supported by Android Wear and Linux.
The silicon for the GPU takes up just 2.2 mm2 on a 28nm manufacturing process, and can deliver 400-500 Mpixels/second or 12.8-16 FP16 GFLOPS at 400-500 MHz.
Since the GPU is designed specifically for low-end smartphones, as well as embedded and IoT applications (e.g. high-end wearables, smart appliances inside the home, multi-purpose printers and scanners, in fact anything that needs a screen) then Imagination has focused on implementing FP16 ALU pipes that deliver high-quality image processing, rather than giving silicon space over to FP32 precision. However, since the G6020 delivers a sustained pixel fillrate to match its GFLOPS performance the GPU can still handle entry-level applications like fluid 3D user interfaces or casual gaming.
Also at MWC 2015, Imagination has unveiled three new PowerVR Series5 video encoders for multiple applications from wearable devices to professional broadcasting. For the latter the PowerVR Series5 video encoders can encode 4K video at 60 fps with 10-bit support.
“The PowerVR Series5 video family benefits from a comprehensive driver package that includes RTOS support and multiple rate control options under Android. This will equip smartphone cameras with better options for video recording leading to a more consumer-friendly experience,” wrote Alexandru Voica from Imagination.