Press release

25 February 2013

Power efficiency is now the dominant factor in mobile design says Imagination

Imagination’s technologies proven most power efficient by 3rd parties in real applications

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MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, Barcelona, Spain – 25th February 2013 – Imagination Technologies (IMG.L), a leading multimedia, processor, communications and cloud technologies company, says that power consumption and thermal envelope considerations are becoming a dominant factor in mobile SoC design decisions.

Imagination puts very significant research into design for low power to help extend the ever-essential battery life of mobile and embedded computing systems. Designing first for low power has made Imagination the leading GPU supplier for mobile markets as well as a key supplier in other markets such as thin, flat TVs, complex automotive dashboards, connected audio/media players and ultra- portable computers, where power and thermal constraints can be just as demanding as in mobile devices.

Says Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing, Imagination: “The industry needs a call to action to acknowledge the realities of low power and thermal requirements in end user products running real software, not development boards just running benchmarks. Everyone talks about the importance of power management, and that’s an area where the best in the industry have really drawn ahead of the pack by adopting technologies and developing design approaches that support sophisticated power management in SoCs.

“Unfortunately benchmarks used for system performance measurement rarely take account of power use even though this is a key factor in all modern designs. We are working closely with the benchmarking industry to address this in future benchmarks and are encouraging everyone in the industry to take into account power under real end product operating conditions when considering performance metrics.”

Imagination implements a broad range of fine grain power management features and capabilities across all of its main IP core families, including:

– PowerGearingTM scaling and management in the PowerVR Series6 GPU architecture alongside a built-in housekeeping processor that allows local power control, auto power gating and enabling Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) solutions

– hardware thread management and core level DVFS in its MIPS® processor cores

– highly power optimised configurable hardware blocks combined with ultra-low clock PHY modulation and coding processors in its Ensigma communications and connectivity cores.

Products built around Imagination’s technologies deliver excellent lower power and thermal footprints compared to those using other IP, according to third party analyses.

Korean website Playwares shows that the thermal characteristic of a leading PowerVR enabled tablet is over 20% lower than a leading competitor while running GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD. The PowerVR tablet also delivers nearly 50% better 3D performance.

Anandtech, the leading site for benchmarking-led technology journalism, showed PowerVR to be the lowest power GPU when compared to its three main competitors running 3D game content. PowerVR GPUs have set OEM and consumer expectation of the power budget expectations for premium mobile products (sub 2W for consistently long battery life) while competitive solutions blow the power budget using almost 3x as much power.


Fundamental to PowerVR GPUs are architectural design choices that minimise power consumption including sophisticated power management functions for the most significant power savings including direct handshake mechanisms between the GPU and SoC power management functions.

PowerVR Series6 GPUs utilize programmable computing elements known as clusters that are designed to offer the highest density of computing performance at the lowest possible power consumption. PowerGearingTM is the robust power management mechanism that enables PowerVR Series6 ‘Rogue’ cores to deliver proven best in class low-power performance for mobile devices. Working GPU processing clusters can be scaled dynamically to optimize power consumption. For example, the six cluster PowerVR G6630 enables each cluster pair to be managed, allowing three modes of operations (X2, X4 and X6) as well as a ‘first gear’ which provides simple 2D graphics functionality for simple UI modes.

The whole graphics pipeline is designed to be managed from a power point of view and a built-in housekeeping processor allows local power control and auto power gating and can be used to enable Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) as well as PowerGearing mechanisms.

Power and performance are further improved by providing optimized compute and graphics data paths, keeping processing on chip and by employing a wide range of lossless and lossy data compression techniques within the processing pipeline.


MIPS processor cores are ideal for products where ultra low-power, compact silicon area and a high level of integration are required.

MIPS cores are designed for high performance and low power, using power management techniques including multithreading, clock and voltage/power gating, voltage and frequency scaling, and multi- core level scaling, with a range that stretches from ultra-low power 32-bit microcontrollers to scalable 32-bit and 64-bit multi-core solutions from MIPS and leading architectural licensees for advanced application and network processing platforms.

The MIPS processor family delivers the same or better performance than leading IP core alternatives in a much smaller silicon footprint, achieving the same results in nearly half the silicon area, given a common process geometry, similar configurations and synthesis techniques used. SoC designers can use this efficiency advantage for significant cost and power savings, or to implement additional cores to deliver a performance advantage against competing silicon in the same power, thermal and area budget.

Imagination’s MIPS Aptiv microprocessor cores received the “Best Processor IP of 2012” award from The Linley Group in the analyst firm’s annual Analysts’ Choice Awards.


Ensigma communications cores use an optimal architecture for low-power designs using a careful combination of fixed and programmable cores.

Signal conditioning, transmission and error handling are performed as high-efficiency fixed function hardware blocks while a complex scalable vector processor with multiple parallel execution units is fully programmable using low-level microcode to enable demodulation of any communications or connectivity standard.

The architecture has been proven in numerous low-power audio and connectivity devices.

Editor’s Notes

For more information about Imagination at Mobile World Congress, visit

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies – a global leader in multimedia, processor and communication technologies – creates and licenses market-leading processor solutions including graphics, video, vision, CPU & embedded processing, multi-standard communications, cross-platform V.VoIP & VoLTE and cloud connectivity. These silicon and software intellectual property (IP) solutions for systems-on-chip (SoC) are complemented by an extensive portfolio of software, tools and ecosystems. Target markets include mobile phone, connected home consumer, mobile and tablet computing, in-car electronics, networking, telecoms, health, smart energy and connected sensors. Imagination’s licensees include many of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and OEM/ODMs. Corporate headquarters are located in the United Kingdom, with sales and R&D offices worldwide. See:

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