Great graphics IP, it’s about software too

It’s common to think of Imagination Technologies and companies like us that are in the business of selling world-class semiconductor IP that powers some of the most exciting consumer electronics and interactive systems on the planet as hardware companies.

Our products are most easily discussed in the context of silicon, and in terms of flops, milli-watts and square millimetres. It’s a natural frame for what we do, and we love discussing how our IP manifests in the hardware in those terms.

But you’d be doing Imagination and the incredibly hard work we put in to semiconductor IP a huge disservice if you didn’t also think about the impact of our software and the software we have to integrate with. In fact, despite being a “hardware” company, software is often the majority of the story when it comes to the success of a product featuring our technology.

You can cram all the raw graphics and compute power you like into an incredibly efficient architecture, world beating as we believe ours to be, but it’s nothing without the software that lets it talk to the outside world. Flops are trivially wasted, power increases, and silicon area goes unused if the software doesn’t ask the hardware to do the right thing.

Our driver can’t issue the hardware with the right instructions to extract the maximum  flops/mm2, frames/second/mW, or whatever other metric you care to measure us by, without a great shader compiler.  That shader compiler is a complex and intricate beast, performing a constant balancing act of assembly and optimization versus run-time cost. It doesn’t get issued shaders to compile if our driver doesn’t implement the right interfaces to the right shader-driver APIs in a correct, high performance way.

Those are just two pieces of our stack that gets built from a robust, well tested, optimised, mature and stable mesh of code, created by our world-class software engineers all over the globe.

The software side weaves its way from the very firmware that causes the graphics core to wake up and respond to all future commands, all the way up to finally putting finished pixels in the right place for a display controller to read and put them on the screen.

Without the software, the hardware can’t do anything. It can’t even wake itself up and do any work. We invest heavily in both sides to provide a world-beating complete solution that marries a leadership tile-based deferred rendering architecture to the complete software stack above.

We have more experience doing that across all major APIs and operating system platforms than any other graphics vendor out there, semiconductor-IP-only or not.  For example, our investment in Microsoft DirectX drivers and Windows expertise stands at well over a decade now.  With Microsoft Windows now a real option for embedded system with Windows 8 and Windows RT, that expertise isn’t something you can easily buy in or build overnight and this gives us an incredible foundation to build on that you can’t get anywhere else in the embedded graphics world.

So the next time you notice that your favorite game is running at a great frame rate and looks fantastic, or that your swipes between screens of icons to launch your favorite app is silky smooth, that’s in large part down to the very hard work of not only the hardware, but the software too.

If you want to know more about our PowerVR graphics technologies, make sure you follow us on Twitter at @PowerVRInsider and @ImaginationTech and keep coming back to our blog.

Please leave a comment below

Comment policy: We love comments and appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas and give feedback. However, all comments are manually moderated and those deemed to be spam or solely promotional will be deleted. We respect your privacy and will not publish your personal details.

Search by Tag

Search for posts by tag.

Search by Author

Search for posts by one of our authors.

Featured posts
Popular posts

Blog Contact

If you have any enquiries regarding any of our blog posts, please contact:

United Kingdom

benny.har-even@imgtec.com
Tel: +44 (0)1923 260 511

Related blog articles

Connecting to CES 2019

Attending CES on an annual basis does enable one to make comparisons and get a sense of how technology and trends are progressing. Therefore, as well as meetings and discussions around our recent graphics and AI announcements we took the

AI in the UK: Year in Review

As a company focused heavily on enabling AI processing, it’s important to us that the country where we live is supporting efforts around AI technology development and policy. Indeed, the government, academic institutions, investors, and the entire ecosystem in the

CES 2019 banner

Get some facetime with Imagination at CES 2019

As the holiday season starts to fade to a distant memory the reality of CES is once again looming large our horizons, promising a new flurry of technology announcements to try and make sense of. As the saying goes, what

Lenovo 300e

PowerVR 2018 consumer tech round-up

Before we shut up shop for the year here at Imagination HQ, we thought we take a quick look at some of the end user products that Imagination tech found its way into in 2018. Our IP has appeared in

Stay up-to-date with Imagination

Sign up to receive the latest news and product updates from Imagination straight to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.