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New graphics IP to boost mobile performance by 20X

Feb 15, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Imagination Technologies — a key supplier of graphics IP to many ARM licensees and to Intel — says a new version of its software will boost performance at least 20 times. The Powervr Series6 architecture, code-named “Rogue,” has already been licensed to one “tier-one” company and will appear in product around the beginning of 2013, the company says.

Graphics IP from Imagination Technologies is a key element of processors from Apple, Freescale, Intel, NEC, Samsung, and TI. For example, the company's Powervr MBX core was incorporated into Apple's first iPhone.

Touting its new Powervr Series6 IP, Imagination Technologies says this will provide "unrivaled GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs." The architecture will be upward-compatible with the current, widely used Series5, "ensuring a smooth migration path for developers upgrading applications optimized for Series5 to the new architecture," the company adds.

Imagination Technologies did not make performance claims in its release, but apparently did so in private meetings with ITProPortal and Pocket Gamer. Both publications quote Imagination PR direct David Harold as saying the Series6 IP will run 20 times faster than today's Series5.

As ITProPortal's Desire Athow writes, this means Series6 will pump out the pixels 100 times faster than the Powervr MBX. And yet, GPUs based on it will cost less than a milliwatt to run, Harold is said to have added.

Meanwhile, Imagination Technologies says, vendors using its current graphics IP will ship more than 200 million SoCs (systems on chip) during 2011. This will add to the nearly half a billion Imagination-based chips that have already shipped, the company says.

According to Imagination, more than 10 SoCs using the latest iteration of its Series5 IP are in silicon or in design. They include:

  • TI's OMAP5430 and OMAP5432, which use multi-core Powervr SGX544MP graphics accelerators
  • Renesas' SH-Mobile APE5R, with Powervr SGX543MP graphics
  • Sony's next generation portable entertainment system (codenamed NGP), with SGX543MP4 graphics

Imagination also announced that it has submitted Powervr SGX drivers to the Khronos Group for OpenCL 1.0 Embedded Profile conformance with Khronos. OpenCL capability will be available to Powervr SGX licensees employing Linux and the latest release of production drivers, the company says.


Last December, Imagination announced a new SGX554 version of its Powervr SGX Series5XT IP (first announced in January 2010). Touted as "ideal for tablets, computing devices, and smartphones," the SGX554 IP can be implemented as a high-performance eight-pipe single core, or in multiprocessor (MP) configurations of between two and 16 cores (16 to 128 pipes), according to the company.

Imagination said SGX554 also provides "comprehensive market-proven support" for desktop OpenGL 2.1 (including X11 integration with DRI2, EXA and DRM support), OpenGL ES 1.1 & 2.0, OpenVG 1.1, and OpenCL 1.1 Embedded Profile. Essentially the same claims were made in June for a previous SGX544 release, but that version was said to support a four-pipe single core or multiprocessor configurations with up to 64 pipes.

Also announced in December were the Powervr VXD392 decoder and Powervr VXE382 encoder, including support for H.264 MVC, WebM (VP8; decode), S3D (Stereoscopic 3D) and resolutions up to UltraHD. According to the company, these new codecs can integrate with various members of the Powervr SGX graphics IP family, enabling bitrate savings of approximately 2.5x compared to existing solutions.

Imagination Technologies' Series5XT SGX IP is based on a second-generation Universal Scalable Shader Engine (USSE2), delivering "significantly better throughput" than the earlier Series5 USSE shader engine. It's said the architecture scales from 100MHz to 400MHz "and beyond," delivering performance of 35 million polygons per second and a pixel fill rate of one gigapixel per second when running at a mid-range 200MHz.

A block diagram of Imagination Technologies' Series5XT SGX IP
(Click to enlarge)

Some of the many ARM processors that include Powervr graphics are listed in this earlier Imagination Technologies story.

Further information

More information can be found on Imagination Technologies' Powervr product page. The company's Mobile World Congress stand is in Hall 1D45.

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