Rockchip releases RK3168 SoC with PowerVR SGX graphics, we go hands-on with image quality tests

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on google

Chinese chipset vendor Rockchip has just joined the ‘high efficiency, low power’ club by recently announcing the 28nm RK3168 dual core processor with PowerVR SGX graphics for mobile devices.

The RK3168 platform was displayed at the 2013 spring edition of the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, where Rockchip had a tablet reference design connected to a power supply which showed the overall power consumption. The device was running at an average of 280mA @ 3.8V (about 1 W) while playing a 1080p video, with the display brightness set to about 50%.

RK3168 PowerVR SGX540 Tablet Power Consumption Demo PowerVR GPU

The Rockchip RK3168-based reference platform playing back a 1080p video

Rockchip RK3168 – another chapter in the PowerVR SGX success story

The PowerVR SGX540 GPU inside Rockchip’s RK3168 platform might be familiar to many from its other incarnations inside other popular chips such as the Texas Instruments OMAP4430 (recently included inside Google Glass) and OMAP4460, Ingenic JZ4780, Samsung Exynos 3 Single, Intel ‘Medfield’ Z2460 and ‘Lexington’ Z2420, and many others.

The PowerVR SGX family’s efficiency as well as its ability to be successfully integrated at a number of process nodes and within a range of target frequencies has helped it build a reputation as the most successful OpenGL ES 2.0 solution available in the market. As recent measurements from independent reviewers have shown, PowerVR SGX GPUs are able to deliver the same high performance across a range of operating systems without requiring complex power management schemes that limit their throughput by having to severely down-clock the whole system when the SoC overheats.

In fact, heat measurements have proven that SoCs integrating our PowerVR graphics IP stay cooler throughout various use cases, including situations where the GPU is heavily used such as 3D applications, and therefore do not need regular interventions from power or frequency controllers.

Superior image quality with PowerVR GPUs

PowerVR SGX GPUs have FP32 ALUs, providing high precision processing throughout the graphics pipeline.

You might be surprised to find out that FP32 support is not as widespread as you think for other GPU architectures. In fact, there are currently at least two competing multicore solutions that dazzle customers with high core counts but still use less than FP32 precision in their ALUs, resulting in the lowest image quality in the mobile industry.

 PowerVRGPU PowerVR SGX540 Rockchip RK3168 YOUi Labs FP32 vs FP16

YOUi Labs has recently released an Android app which tests the floating point accuracy of the GPU inside your device

[LINK TO FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE]

To give you an idea of how differences between FP32 and lower precision ALUs can impact gaming, we ran the Relative Benchmark on some tablets and smartphones around the office. This Android graphics benchmark runs an animation filled with post processing effects like HDR (High Dynamic Range), bloom, and depth of field that test mobile GPUs to their limit.

PowerVR SGX540 Rockchip RK3168 Relative Benchmark FP32 vs FP16 PowerVR GPU

Visual differences between PowerVR SGX (FP32) and competing multicore GPUs (FP16) due to computational precision

[LINK TO FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE]

On top of that, the PowerVR on-chip colour buffer is always worked on at full internal precision (RGBA8888), regardless of the final frame buffer precision. That means blending happens at high precision, reducing banding, while dithering is only applied once when the colour buffer is flushed to the frame buffer.

As you can see, some competing GPUs use 16-bit (RGB565) formats for internal colour computation which can cause a noticeable loss of precision after multiple reads and writes when blending (be it from external memory or on-chip tile memory). This may result in more significant banding and dithering artefacts.

The difference is that PowerVR’s tile buffer is always RGBA8888, irrespective of what the app asks therefore we avoid the ‘grainy’ look below as the dither pattern accumulates.

PowerVR SGX540 Rockchip RK3168 RGBA888 vs RGB565 PowerVR GPU

A scalable roadmap from mass market to high end

Because our PowerVR unified shader architecture was designed with GPU compute in mind, Imagination offers OpenCL support across all their PowerVR GPU cores. Integrating the PowerVR SGX540 GPU in their chip has made Rockchip’s RK3168 the only platform with GPU compute support across their RK3xxx range of SoCs.

This brings a very important advantage for consumers, especially in emerging markets. As our GPUs are the only processors in the market which are capable of handling both graphics and compute APIs across their entire range, platforms integrating Imagination’s solutions can still offer high-performance graphics and compute even on mass market devices, something unheard of or even impossible in competing graphics solutions.

Furthermore, Rockchip are benefiting not only from the most efficient graphics and compute hardware IP engine on the market, but also tapping into an ecosystem of over 35,000 developers with whom Imagination are always collaborating on application bring-up and optimization.

For more news and announcements from our ecosystem and silicon partners, follow Imagination (@ImaginationTech and @PowerVRInsider) on Twitter 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

Product and event round-up from the experts in GPU and AI

It’s certainly been a busy few months for Imagination. Towards the latter end of last year, we released a raft of new products and initiatives, and a new CEO took the helm giving us real momentum for 2019. At the

How AI is conducting the future of music technology

“We tend to think of technological advances as destroying what’s gone before, but that doesn’t usually happen. This could lead to a different way of making music.” – Jarvis Cocker, former Pulp frontman, solo artist, writer and broadcaster In recent

Why you should join Imagination at Embedded World 2019

Our technology is focussed entirely on offering SoC manufacturers low power, high-performance options for building groundbreaking products in a range of markets, from automotive to smart devices such as smart speakers to the latest smartphones. Embedded World is one of

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.