Today is an exciting day for us here at Imagination as we are announcing a brand new family of PowerVR GPUs – the PowerVR Series8XE. Before your eyes glaze over staring at our alphanumeric nomenclature, let me quickly explain.
Imagination’s Rogue family of GPUs falls into two distinct categories: the XT Series and the XE Series. Our XT GPUs are targeted at mid- to high-end applications where advanced graphics capabilities and differentiating features are the main drivers. On the other end of the spectrum, our XE GPUs are targeted at entry-level applications, where silicon area, cost and time to market are the top priorities.
Our latest offering – the PowerVR Series8XE – is targeted at this highly cost-sensitive, entry-level market segment, which is increasingly demanding greater graphics capabilities but at much lower cost. Some of the markets for Series8XE GPUs include: entry-level phones and tablets, affordable 4K TVs and set-top boxes, over-the-top (OTT) media streaming devices, automotive displays and clusters, wearables etc. Before I dive into what the PowerVR Series8XE family offers these market segments, let’s first understand the market dynamics that are driving the need for this new design.
According to a recent report by Cyber Media Research, 2016 will be the first year when smartphone shipments overtake feature phone shipments in India. 250 million units of smartphones are expected to be sold in India just this year – a 4 percent increase from 2015. But that’s not all. The unit price of some of these feature-rich smartphones is expected to dip to less than $30!
So what does this demanding consumer behavior mean for OEMs, especially in light of rapidly declining price points? Chip manufacturers servicing entry-level markets are feeling tremendous cost pressures just to break even.
Similarly if you look at the television or OTT segments, consumers expect Full HD or 4K video streaming capabilities in entry level gadgets. And in the automotive segment, entry-level to mid-range graphics capabilities are becoming a must-have requirement in infotainment and electronic dashboard clusters even in affordable cars.
To put it very simply, OEMs across industries are feeling the pinch to deliver more at lower cost.
Imagination believes that the way to solve the problem for our OEM partners is to deliver advanced capabilities in a smaller die area so chip manufacturers can achieve cost benefits by saving on silicon. Here are a few highlights of how our PowerVR Series8XE will help OEMs achieve this goal:
- First, PowerVR Series8XE offers the smallest silicon footprint in the industry for the same user experience. OEMs can achieve a 30 – 45 percent area reduction vs. competitors’ cores for the same set of features and user experience (fillrate).
- We’re delivering the latest APIs at the lowest cost. Most embedded GPU solutions in the market today are shipping with support for OpenGL ES 2.0. But if you are an OEM with both entry-level and high-end product offerings, it means you will need to support two distinct software stacks and architecture: on one end you will support the old OpenGL ES 2.0 stack and on the other, the modern OpenGL ES 3.x and Vulkan. This implies a significant increase in cost for a company in terms of software development, support effort and maintenance. That’s why our Series8XE supports the latest OpenGL ES 3.2 specification – this enables access to the widest range of apps as well as to modern toolchains. What is even more exciting is we are also enabling support for Vulkan 1.0, the new open standard API from Khronos. Vulkan is touted as the one API for all platforms – it can run on a smartwatch or a high end workstation, or anything in between. In terms of cost savings, Vulkan besides providing applications with direct control over GPU performance also minimizes the CPU workload, reducing the need for a high performance CPU and once again driving down cost.
- Hardware based security solutions are becoming a must in embedded devices, and Series8XE GPUs come with our OmniShield™ multi-domain security technology built in. If you are an OEM servicing the automotive industry for example, you can use this technology to create multiple virtual GPUs to isolate each application. This way even if one of the applications is hacked, it cannot be used to attack the rest of the system. There are many other benefits too – check out this new whitepaper on OmniShield.
With Series8XE, we’re empowering our embedded OEM partners to create advanced solutions for the entry-level markets. PowerVR Series8XE is already receiving enthusiastic response from OEMs around the world. If you’d like to understand some of the technology details powering this latest GPU offering, check out my colleague Alex Voica’s blog article.
* PowerVR Seriex8XE GPUs are based on an internal draft Khronos specification, which may change prior to final release. Conformance criteria for this specification have not yet been established.
** PowerVR Seriex8XE GPUs are based on published Khronos specifications, and are expected to pass the Khronos Conformance Testing Process. Previous generation PowerVR Rogue GPUs have already achieved conformance. Current conformance status can be found at www.khronos.org/conformance.
OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos.
OpenGL is a registered trademark and the OpenGL ES logo is a trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc. used by permission by Khronos.