imagtec Imagination Technologies announces PowerVR Series6 GPU cores

Things could hardly be any more obvious that the new technology battle field is mobile computing, as we're seeing an onslaught of new technologies that are all targeting what is a massively growing market space. Imagination Technologies is one of the companies that are pushing this development forward and the company has revealed its first PowerVR Series6 GPU cores, previously known under the Rouge code name.

Things could hardly be any more obvious that the new technology battle field is mobile computing, as we're seeing an onslaught of new technologies that are all targeting what is a massively growing market space. Imagination Technologies is one of the companies that are pushing this development forward and the company has revealed its first PowerVR Series6 GPU cores, previously known under the Rouge code name.

Many of you may not remember that back in the early days of 3D graphics cards Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU's were some of the best, competing and even sometimes beating 3dfx, Nvidia and ATI. However, the company had a fairly small market share and not enough partners and decided to pull out of the PC graphics market. The one key technology the company had that its competitors didn't back in the day and still doesn't really use was tile-based deferred rendering, a technology that the company has stuck with over the years.

You might wonder what this flash back has to do with cutting edge mobile graphics, well, as it happens the PowerVR Series6 features an improved version of tile-based deferred rendering and unlike a PC graphics card, you have much more limited memory bandwidth in a GPU that's part of an SoC, generally no more than a 32-bit wide bus, whereas even an entry level graphics card has a 64-bit memory bus. This means that PowerVR's GPU cores can render higher resolution 3D graphics without the need of additional memory bandwidth. To further help reduce the memory bandwidth requirements the PowerVR Series6 also features texture compression, although this is pretty much a standard feature on modern GPUs.

However, Imagination Technologies is also using cutting edge GPU design and the Series6 is right up there with AMD and Nvidia as it's as far as we're aware the first GPU core of its kind to feature "compute clusters". Imagination Technologies didn't reveal too many details in its press release, but the company has launched two different GPU cores the G6200 and the G6400, featuring two and four compute clusters respectively. This might sound pathetic compared to AMD's latest Radeon HD 7970 which features no less than 32 compute units, but keep in mind that we're talking GPU cores that will be part of an ARM chip here, so low power is as important as performance.

Imagination Technologies claims that its PowerVR Series6 GPU cores will deliver up to 20 times the performance yet be five times more efficient than its Series5 GPU cores. The company didn't go into any performance specifics beyond mentioning that we should expect "computing performance exceeding 100GFLOPS" with future parts reaching the TFLOPS range. We're going to reach out to Imagination Technologies and see if they can give us any better estimates here and maybe some comparisons as well.

As far as API support is concerned, Imagination Technologies is expecting the PowerVR Series6 GPU cores to be compatible with OpenGL ES "Halti" (code name for the next gen of OpenGL ES), OpenGL 3.x/4.x, OpenCL 1.x and DirectX 10. The company did point out that some apparently yet unannounced GPU cores in the PowerVR Series6 will support DirectX 11.1 and be fully WHQL compliant. Maybe this is what we'll see in some future Atom processors from Intel.

It will be interesting to see which companies pick up the new PowerVR Series6 GPU cores and so far ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Renesas Electronics and MediaTek are apparently on board with ST-Ericsson's Nova A9600 possibly being the first SoC to feature the new GPU core. Texas Instrument's upcoming OMAP 5000-series is also expected to feature it. On a side note, Samsung recently became a licensee of Imagination Technologies and let's not forget that both Apple and Intel are using its GPUs in a wide range of products. We can't wait to see what these new GPU cores can do and we'd expect to see some near desktop level graphics, albeit a couple of years old, in our mobile devise in the not too distant future.

Source: Imagination Technologies