“The future of television is a hard nut to crack,” a wise man once said. While this line is taken from our own blog, I can safely describe it as wise as I’m actually quoting my predecessor who last year took a look at ‘the evolution of TV and set-top box chipsets’.
The post discussed how TV has evolved rapidly in recent years, moving from analogue to digital, to SD to HD then 3D, to ‘smart’ TV and now onto new experiences such as HDR, 360° video and 4K.
While 360° video and VR are making limited inroads into the living room, 4K is quickly establishing itself as the new aspirational standard with most of those that don’t have a 4K capable set in their living room right now wanting to get one. The numbers back this up, with ABI research forecasting 4K TV unit sales of over 188m units by 2021, representing around 70% of the total TV market.
It’s no surprise then there’s still a large market for high performance, capable chipsets to support the increasingly demanding graphics and compute requirements placed upon next-generation TVs and set-top-boxes. To that end, Synaptics, who recently acquired Marvell Multimedia Solutions, has announced its sixth-generation multimedia processor; the BG5CT. These types of chips need to offer high performance and power efficiency, so it’s no surprise that it features one of our cutting-edge GPUs – a PowerVR Series8XE GE8310.
Aimed primarily at the Android TV and RDK set-top box markets, the chipset is pin compatible with the previous version (the BG4CT) and as well as delivering 4K video and 15K DMIPs quad-core processing, it offers upgrades such as support for advanced HDR formats such as Dolby Vision and Technicolor, along with upconversion of SDR to HDR and also support for conditional access modules targeting Pay TV set-top box vendors.
Pay TV operators are increasingly moving to open standard software platforms such as Android TV or RDK for their set-top boxes. This provides their subscribers single platform access to pay TV content as well as ‘over the top’ (OTT) services. With Android TV software on set-top-box, access to Google Play applications store and games are now available for the consumer. This is another key trend driving more powerful GPUs in the set-top-box market and Synaptics’ selection of GE8310 GPU for their multimedia SoC.
Our high performing, efficient IP lend itself well to integration in designs where small physical footprint and a minimal bill of materials are primary concerns. As such, we have long enjoyed success in the OTT box arena, such as the Google Nexus Player, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV designs, and this continues with the BG5CT, the first Series8XE-based design announced for this market.
The GE8310 GPU offers strong performance, delivering four pixels per clock in a ‘half-cluster’ design, representing an ideal balance of performance to area. This makes it effective in delivering a smooth, rich interface on screen, plus it is more than capable of supporting any visual effects the UI designers might wish to employ.
It’s also the first Series8XE design announced to offer our PVRIC3 texture compression and the first Series8XE core with 10-bit YUV support. And should the box manufacturer want to offer the ability to play games, the GE8310 will effortlessly handle them too.
Once again PowerVR has been recognised for its power and space efficient approach highlighting that whether it’s mobile, embedded, digital TV or AI-related tasks, PowerVR has a solution that’s right for you.
To keep up to date with the latest developments on PowerVR you can follow up on Twitter, @ImaginationTech and on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.
My first encounter with the PowerVR GPU was helping the then VideoLogic launch boards for Matrox in Europe. Not long after I joined the company, working on the rebrand to Imagination Technologies and promoting both our own VideoLogic-branded boards and those of our partners using ST’s Kyro processors. There were tens of board partners but only for one brief moment did we have two partners in the desktop space: NEC and ST.