Press release

29 July 2005

Imagination Technologies Launches Programmable Shader Graphics Family for Wireless Applications

Debut Of PowerVR SGX Wireless Graphics Accelerator Core Family Enables Industry Roadmap For Next Generation Mobile Devices

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London, UK, 29th July 2005: Imagination Technologies a leader in silicon IP cores debuts its PowerVR SGX Shader Graphics Accelerator family, the future of wireless mobile embedded graphics and video technology.

The PowerVR SGX cores for wireless applications are part of Imagination’s PowerVR Series5 scalable and fully programmable multi-threaded universal shader graphics and video core family, previously codenamed Eurasia. The first cores from this family target mainstream and performance mobile graphics with state-of-the-art support for 2D and 3D and an industry leading feature set that exceeds OGL 2.0 shader and Microsoft Vertex and Pixel Shader Model 3 requirements.

PowerVR SGX is available for licensing in three scaled variants (PowerVR SGX510, SGX520, SGX530) with sizes ranging from less than 2mm2 to 8mm2 in 90nm technology. These variants will enable a wide range of mobile devices from basic phones and entry-level feature phones to mainstream feature phones and advanced feature and smart phones.

“”Despite its very small size PowerVR SGX will set a tough benchmark that any competitors will have to stretch to compare with and, with advanced programmability and state-of-the-art shader features, will enable content developers to create a distinct new generation of mobile games and applications,”” says Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination Technologies.

PowerVR SGX enables the highest performance, most efficient and lowest power consumption solution for handheld 3D graphics and video. Each scalable PowerVR SGX variant provides highly flexible support for video codecs with zero silicon overhead, using the advanced programmability of the core.

PowerVR SGX builds on the architectural benefits found in Imagination’s PowerVR MBX family, which is already the de facto standard for mobile graphics with licensees including six of the world’s top 10 semiconductor manufacturers. The first PowerVR SGX deliverables will be available for shipping to lead partners from next quarter.

The PowerVR SGX family will co-exist alongside PowerVR MBX, which is currently integrated in a variety of devices including mobile handhelds, car navigation and entertainment systems.

PowerVR SGX510, SGX520 and SGX530 are compatible with content created for PowerVR MBX. PowerVR SGX is backwardly compatible with key features from the PowerVR MBX family like the vertex shader programs and 2 and 4-bit PVR-TC™ texture compression. These compatibilities, and continued support for all existing PowerVR extensions to OpenGL ES 1.1, allow comprehensive software support developed on the PowerVR MBX platform to be carried forward to PowerVR SGX.

The PowerVR SGX Difference
The new-generation PowerVR SGX offers all the advantages of PowerVR’s highly efficient tile based architecture. Unlike traditional graphics solutions that demand expensive memory or very large silicon areas, PowerVR’s unique, patented tile-based rendering and deferred pixel shading architecture allows a very small silicon die to deliver higher performance and higher image quality, at lower power consumption, than competing technologies.

PowerVR SGX takes the PowerVR architecture to the next level with a universal scalable shader engine (USSE™), which combines graphics (vertex shader & pixel shader features) as well as video and image processing capabilities in a single scalable processing unit, enabling mobile semiconductor and device manufacturers to plan a roadmap where PowerVR will continue to enable the best performance in the most efficient architecture for the mobile industry.

Shader technology enables superior realism and advanced features when rendering 3D objects and, by making 3D effects more programmable, gives freedom to content developers to create more visually compelling and unique games and applications.

Continues Yassaie: “”With its PowerVR deferred pixel shading architecture the PowerVR SGX family has the lowest core and system power demands. It’s ideal for unified memory systems plus integrated CPU designs in mobile and cost sensitive applications. Couple that with wide standards compatibility, high scalability from a universal multimedia architecture, pipeline scalability from 1x to 8x and beyond and video encode and decode for free, and you have a solution that is demonstrably superior to any other offering on the market.

“”With PowerVR SGX we expect to maintain our hard-won leadership position on size, power and performance and its scalability means it’s suitable for a wide range of end-user products. The specification says it all: this is the premier wireless graphics solution and will enable our partners to continue the reshaping of the mobile multimedia market they have already begun using our technology.””

Says Dr. Jon Peddie, the leading market researcher in graphics: “”The mobile phone is advancing in functionality at a 3X pace compared to the PC, and future high-end phones will incorporate the OpenGL ES 2.0 API with shader capabilities, similar to features found on high-end PCs. Imagination Technologies, with design wins in most of the major handsets, continues its lead by being the first to introduce a design with support for this new API and we expect this new technology to fuel the next wave in modern advanced mobile phones.””

Inside PowerVR SGX
The PowerVR SGX family features the novel multi-thread USSE™ universal scalable shader engine, which combines shader-based graphic features as well as capabilities for video, imaging and other compute-intensive tasks in a single programmable and highly scalable processing unit. Maximum gate utilisation is achieved by sharing the unit for various multimedia tasks including both vertex and pixel processing with optimal automatic load balancing of vertex and pixel throughput, which are often different from application to application. The tasks which could include vertex, pixel, video and imaging functions are automatically broken down into processing packets which are then scheduled across a number of multi-threaded execution units in the USSE™. A number of coprocessors also assist USSE™ for maximum efficiency.

PowerVR SGX’s USSE™ supports advanced geometry and pixel processing capabilities such as procedural geometry (e.g. higher order surfaces, data instancing, path based geometry, point-sprite expansion etc.) and textures, advanced per pixel and vertex lighting effects (e.g. parallax bump mapping, refraction and reflection etc). Further, the highly flexible nature of the USSE™ architecture allows this programmability to be applied to many other tasks such as other multimedia related activities (e.g. physical modelling), flexible video and image processing and many more. This universal approach to processing also has the benefit of requiring a single programming model with one compiler, reducing hardware and software qualification time.

PowerVR SGX’s latency tolerant architecture provides geometry processing and rasterisation decoupled to achieve minimal stalling as well as no pixel shading of non-visible pixels and on-chip support for multiple render targets (MRT). A large proportion of PowerVR SGX’s peak throughput is achievable in real applications and the architecture has the lowest bandwidth requirements as PowerVR SGX’s deferred pixel shading gives 2x – 3x fill rate compared to other solutions at the same bandwidth. Across the wireless PowerVR SGX family parts effective fillrate performance is from 200Mpix/sec to 1200Mpix/sec @ 200MHz (with even higher Z and stencil rates) and polygon throughput is from 2Mpoly/sec to 13.5Mpoly/sec @ 200Mhz.

Z and Stencil tests are performed on-chip requiring no external stencil or Z-buffer memory or bandwidth. Pixel shading and blending are also performed on-chip and compressed texture support is just part of an industry leading feature set which also supports OpenGL ES 2.0, OGL 2.0 and Microsoft Shader Model 3.0 capable shaders, procedural geometry and MRTs.

PowerVR SGX enables compelling image quality via Internal True Colour™ – enabling colour operations to be performed on-chip using high precision mathematics at arbitrary pixel colour precision up to 128bit/IEEE32 floating point – combined with comprehensive programmable multi-sampling image anti-aliasing for free.

A key benefit of PowerVR SGX’s tiling architecture is on-chip multiple render targets (MRT). This technology is unique to PowerVR tile based rendering and cannot be replicated by an immediate mode renderer (IMR) in a cost-effective manner. IMRs use conventional external MRTs with huge external memory storage and bandwidth. PowerVR’s on-chip MRTs result in low geometry processing with no additional external memory cost and no additional memory bandwidth cost.

All major 2D operations are accelerated, including: BLTs, Alpha Blend BLTs, ROP 2, 3 & 4s, lines and surface rotation.

PowerVR SGX fully supports the broadest range of mobile standards including OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 1.X, D3D Mobile, OpenVG, JSR184 and JSR239, DX9+ and Open GL 2.0 APIs running under Linux, Symbian, WinCE and Windows Mobile OS.

Video For Free
Because of PowerVR SGX’s fully programmable architecture it can support video acceleration for free, without increasing the size and complexity of the core.

Video is a core competence of handheld graphics processors and is increasingly a must-have feature, not just in Personal Media Player products, but also other mobile devices. PowerVR SGX provides outstanding image quality and frame rates, offloading video codec processing (including MPEG-4 and H.264) from the main CPU. For video operations the host CPU load is minimal and the PowerVR SGX part can perform motion estimation, motion compensation and transform, residual generation, transform, quantisation, inverse quantisation, inverse transform, image reconstruction, and deblocking (H.264), making it possible to efficiently off load the tasks associated with video compression/decompression from the host CPU.

As well as enabling the playback of users own personal media content, PowerVR SGX’s advanced video capabilities will enable mobile services such as TV/video-on-demand and video messaging. PowerVR SGX also supports still image standards including JPEG and JPEG2000.

PowerVR SGX is the latest family in Imagination’s range of comprehensive visual IP cores, which cover graphics & video cores, digital video cores and display & TV cores. For more information about becoming a PowerVR licensing partner, contact

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