AllWinner A31 and A31s with PowerVR graphics

OR The AllWinner A31 SoC has PowerVR graphics [SGX544MP2], is ready for your New Year 4K resolutions [With Imagination Blog, Jan 2, 2013]

OR PowerVR graphics give the quad-core Allwinner A31s a competitive edge [With Imagination Blog, March 29, 2013]

Update: A31 Introduction by Allwinner Technology Co., Ltd [ARM Partners site, March 13, 2013]

A31 features:

  • Quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU utilising 40nm ARM POP Technology

Prerequisite readings on this blog:
Allwinner A31 SoC is here with products and the A20 SoC, its A10 pin-compatible dual-core is coming in February 2013 [Dec 10, 2012]
ONDA [Dec 21, 2012]
on the ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ trend-tracking blog:
– Core post: Imagination Technologies becoming the multimedia IP leader for SoC vendors—Update: its outlook turning bleak [Dec 16, 2011 – Oct 11, 2012]
and elsewhere:
Onda V972 – Apple iPad 4th Generation Alternative [JSXL Technology, Dec 15, 2012]
First quad-core A7 Tablet launch review [on IMP3.net in Chinese, Dec 5, 2012] with the following slide:image
which has been repeated in Allwinner A31 [Wikipedia, excerpted, Jan 4, 2012] articles as:

 

Allwinner A31

Tegra3
[e.g. Nexus 7]

Exynos4412 [e.g. Galaxy Note 10.1]

CPU

A7x4

A9x4

A9x4

Cache

1MB L2

1MB L2

1MB L2

GPU

SGX544 MP2 [i.e. 2 cores,
total of 8 shaders / pipelines]

ULP Geforce

Mali400 MP4

Polygon Ability

110M/s

120M/s

44M/s

Pixel Ability

3000M/s

1600M/s

1600M/s

RAM

2CH 64bits

1CH 32bits

2CH 64bits

NAND

2CH 16bits

1CH 8bits

1CH 8bits

Price

$20-

$20+

$20+

Relative GLbenchmark performances:image
Note that Onda V972 has a Retina display like iPad 3 and 4, so the onscreen graphics performance is much less satisfactory.

GLBenchmark 2.5 MWC 2012 Special Edition

The same benchmark against the high-end Google offering and also against the latest Apple tablets is showing that except the iPad Mini the Onda tablets are much less performing in terms of GPU:
image
Nexus 10 GPU: Mali T604 (four cores)
iPad Mini GPU: SGX543MP2 (two cores) @250MHz
iPad (4th generation) GPU: SGX554MP4 (four cores) @300MHz
iPad (iPad 3) GPU: SGX543MP4 (four cores) @250MHz
Onda V812 and Onda V972 have an SGX544MP2 (two cores) GPU

PowerVR graphics give the quad-core Allwinner A31s a competitive edge [With Imagination Blog, March 29, 2013]

Get the most out of your battery and avoid heat issues with PowerVR GPUs

Power consumption is critical for mobile devices, especially for smartphones, smaller tablets and phablets. These devices cannot afford to fit a large battery as their bigger counterparts do, but must still provide high performance computing within this limited power envelope.

As graphics processor units (GPUs) increasingly become the driving force behind SoC processing, scaling the number of graphics IP cores becomes a careful balancing act between performance, power and area requirements.

By choosing a PowerVR SGX544MP2 from Imagination for its A31 and A31s platforms, Allwinner have seen more than 50% increases in graphics and compute performance compared to competing solutions with twice as many cores, running at double the frequency, while keeping power consumption significantly lower. This is an extremely important point for computing platforms.

image

Because competing solutions are inherently inefficient (essentially brute force designs), they must rely on overclocking to extreme frequencies to provide somewhat decent performance. This leads to dangerous levels of heat (think 72 to 100+ degrees Celsius) which is unacceptable in practical usage. Device temperature should not be massively above body temperature… and definitely not near skin burning temperature.

What about competitive benchmarks?

We’ve seen competitors go to extreme lengths to compete with PowerVR GPUs and claim superior performance by ramping up clock speeds just to run benchmarks. Not only does this give a highly distorted view of what real users will experience, it also gives an unrealistic impression of what the chip is actually capable of.

The trick here is simple: make sure the benchmark runs for the time a typical user will be using the tablet – e.g. 10 or 15 minutes – and see what happens to the temperature of the product and the speed of the benchmark. We’ve seen cases where the temperature rises so high that the tablet quickly becomes impossible to hold, while the thermal management on the chip cuts in (if it was not earlier disabled to mislead even more), plummeting performance to a fraction of their claimed benchmark speeds.

imageHeat measurements from Korean website Playwares.com
[Nexus 10 with Mali T604 an iPad 4 with SGX554MP4]

End users don’t appreciate a hot tablet or wildly fluctuating performance as thermal management cuts in or out. This process of constantly having to adjust a GPU’s working frequency is known as thermal panic linked throttling and it leads to significant fluctuations in the overall experience and chipset performance as the system toggles for example from 600MHz to 300Mhz or even lower to cool the silicon down.

PowerVR is the lowest power GPU in its class, ensuring users get the best possible experience for hours of enjoyment. By using PowerVR GPUs, Imagination’s silicon partners like Allwinner do not run into this problem. Low power technologies unique to the PowerVR architecture such as TBDR (tile-based deferred rendering), PVRTC and PVRTC2 texture compression support, and a separate hardware 2D core all contribute to sustained performance and decreased power consumption.

This in turn improves system-wide, real world performance and reduces memory bandwidth requirements.

PowerVR Series5XT is the graphics engine of choice for high-resolution screens

PowerVR GPUs have been and are at the forefront of high resolution displays, driving complex user interfaces and ultra-realistic games on Retina resolutions (and beyond) for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and other consumer devices. This trend is likely to continue this year, as we expect newer PowerVR-based smartphones, phablets and tablets to launch with high resolution screens.

When it comes to devices with high-resolution screens, PowerVR Series5XT-based designs like the Allwinner A31s and A31 are leading the market. For example, the Allwinner A31s can drive resolutions up to 1280×800 pixels, decode video up to 2160p, and encode video up to 1080p – perfect for mainstream, high volume phablets that need the added graphics and compute power to compete against more expensive solutions in the market. Allwinner A31s significantly reduces BOM costs by integrating functions like audio, ISP (image signal processor), and voice communication interfaces directly onto the chip.

[Imgtec YouTube channel, March 20, 2013] VeniceScene showcases the high-end OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics capabilities of the PowerVR SGX series by beautifully rendering part of a picturesque canal network similar to those found in Venice itself. Demonstrated here is a wide range of graphics techniques, including vertex displacement, bump-mapping, shadow-mapping, reflections and refractions. These features, coupled with the large amount of geometry in the scene really demonstrate the ability of the PowerVR SGX series.

PowerVR Series5XT GPU cores provide high precision floating point support leading to less rendering artefacts and improved compatibility with a minimal impact on performance.

Near OpenGL ES 3.0 functionality and GPU compute on the same PowerVR GPU

PowerVR Series5XT GPUs are fully-featured, future proof designs, offering much more than a standard API implementation. For example, the PowerVR SGX544MP2 inside the Allwinner A31s and A31 SoCs supports a wide range of graphics APIs, including OpenGL ES 2.0, desktop OpenGL 2.1 (including X11 integration with DRI2, EXA and DRM support), and DirectX 9_3.

More importantly, PowerVR Series5XT GPUs deliver the largest number of OpenGL ES 2.0 extensions available in the industry, bringing OpenGL ES 3.0 functionality on today’s platforms. This gives developers a path for migration between the two versions of the Khronos standard, allowing them to design console quality titles optimized for mobile platforms.

As opposed to other GPU vendors who either are not capable to support (or completely lack the feature set) for OpenCL or Renderscript/Fiterscript APIs, Imagination delivers GPU compute across all PowerVR cores, including Series5, Series5XT and Series6. Our SGX platforms offer up to IEEE 32-bit floating point accuracy for GPU compute and advanced context switching and multi concurrent API support.

This enables PowerVR-based platforms like Allwinner A31s and A31 to offer uncompromised compute and graphics performance across a range of devices.

[Imgtec YouTube channel, March 20, 2013] The Flags demo shows a set of pirate flags blowing realistically in the wind, using real-time cloth simulation powered by OpenCL running on a PowerVR GPU.

The PowerVR SGX544MP core is the most efficient GPU core shipping today in high volume, offering better real device performance and compatibility. Its feature set far exceeds other competing solutions whose obsolete capabilities limit their ability to provide the flexibility and efficiency characteristics required of any mobile and embedded GPU.

PowerVR graphics help Imagination’s partners like Allwinner achieve success

We are pleased to partner with companies like Allwinner Technology, a leading China-based fabless design company dedicated to smart application processor SoCs and smart analog ICs. The combination of Allwinner’s design and integration expertise together with Imagination’s industry-leading graphics technology is creating compelling product lines including multi-core application processors for smart devices and smart power management ICs used by brands worldwide.

With its focus on cutting edge UHD video processing, high performance multi-core CPU and GPU integration, and ultra low power consumption, Allwinner Technology provides mainstream solutions for the global tablet, internet TV, smart home device, automotive in-dash system, smart power management, and mobile connected device markets.

The PowerVR SGX544, a modern GPU for today’s leading platforms [With Imagination Blog, March 13, 2013]

PowerVR SGX544 is the second member of Imagination’s PowerVR Series5XT family. It can be implemented as a high-performance 4-pipeline single core or in various multiprocessor (MP) configurations of between 2 and 16 cores (8 to 64 pipelines).

The list below shows just some of our partners that have shipped or will soon ship PowerVR SGX544-based platforms:

Unlock the graphics potential of PowerVR SGX544 with the new OpenGL ES 2.0 API extensions

As mobile and embedded application platforms continue to converge, Imagination has seen growing demand for multi-standard API support across all cores in the Series5XT GPU family. We’ve designed PowerVR SGX544 to be a modern and high performance core. Thanks to the PowerVR architecture, SGX544 is capable of exceeding both OpenGL ES 2.0 and DirectX9_3 requirements, making it ideal for tablets, computing devices and smartphones.

image
The PowerVR SGX544 block diagram showing its advanced architecture and high performance capabilities

Thanks to Imagination’s long and proven track record in developing powerful graphics IP cores and software drivers, PowerVR SGX544 can enable our customers to support popular APIs such as OpenGL ES 2.0, DirectX9_3, desktop OpenGL 2.1 (including X11 integration with DRI2, EXA and DRM support), and OpenCL 1.1 Embedded Profile.

Not only that, but we have recently pushed the boundary for all existing PowerVR Series5XT GPUs with a new series of API extensions which include OpenGL ES 3.0 features like MRTs, occlusion queries, seamless cube maps, sampler access from vertex shaders, floating point textures, GLSL full-precision floating point, R and RG textures, min/max blends, and multisample render buffers. We expect to see developers taking full advantage of all these added features soon, as they provide a valuable differentiator for our semiconductor licensees and OEM partners.

PowerVR SGX544 supports the widest range of texture compression standards, including PVRTC2

Developers targeting current generation platforms will be able to take advantage of PowerVR SGX544’s advanced texture support. Alongside widely adopted texture compression standards like ETC, ETC2, PVRTC and DXTn, all Series5XT and Series6 GPUs supportImagination’s PVRTC2 format. This recently updated texture compression standard adds a wide range of new features including:

  • improved image quality, especially for textures with high contrast, large areas of significant colour discontinuity, or boundaries of non-tiling textures
  • better support for pre-multiplied textures
  • support for arbitrary sized NPOT (Non Power Of Two) textures
  • sub-texturing

PowerVR SGX544 delivers a rapid path to GPU compute through OpenCL, Renderscript and Filterscript

The PowerVR GPU family continues to lead the market in technological capability, roadmap strength and ecosystem. It remains by far the most adopted and shipped technology of its kind.  PowerVR Series5XT has been optimized for graphics and compute efficiency, obtaining better real device performance and compatibility. It is a modern GPU family, whose feature set clearly exceed the obsolete capabilities of other competing cores released in the last four years.

The Series5XT family’s ability to fully support popular graphics and compute standards such as OpenGL ES 2.0, DirectX9_3 and OpenCL 1.1, with new standards added continuously (recent additions include Renderscript and Filterscript), shows the capabilities and extensive feature set of the PowerVR architecture.

Different hardware configurations with PowerVR SGX544 (i.e. Allwinner A31, Intel ‘Clover Trail’, MediaTek MT6589, Samsung Exynos 5410 Octa, etc.) are already starting to ship in mass volume in certain markets, with tablets and smartphones including the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, Onda V972, Ramos W33, Ainol Novo 9 Spark, and Samsung Galaxy Premier.

Upcoming flagship devices are soon to follow, making the PowerVR SGX544MP, alongside other existing Series5XTMP cores, the most popular GPU in the mobile and embedded market today.

We expect to see even better levels of performance from PowerVR Series6-based designs, which are starting to ship now and will reach mass-market volume this year. As smartphones and tablets overtake traditional consoles and PC shipments to become the highest volume segment in the computing market, Imagination is driving mobile and embedded graphics performance to reach across the full range of smart consumer devices, from mass market to high end in an era of ubiquitous mobile multimedia.

The AllWinner A31 SoC has PowerVR graphics [SGX544MP2], is ready for your New Year 4K resolutions [With Imagination Blog, Jan 2, 2013]

There have been some interesting announcements from Imagination’s vibrant ecosystem of partners but perhaps one of the most exciting collaborations to be revealed lately is the release of the AllWinner A31 SoC (System-on-Chip) integrating a SGX544MP graphics core. This graphics processor (GPU) IP core is part of the PowerVR Series5XT family of graphics processors which were designed for high efficiency to meet the multimedia requirements of the next generation of consumer, communications and computing applications like UIs running on 4K resolutions at 60fps.

PowerVR GPUs – the true path to innovation

Companies like AllWinner have been important innovators in the busy Chinese semiconductor landscape. They have also been making sure that all the hard work that has gone into developing their high-performance SoCs was backed up by a strong list of OEM and ODM partners ready to use their computing platform into the latest generation of gadgets and devices. For example, the announcement of the new AllWinner A31 SoC was immediately followed by an avalanche of upcoming tablets.

The AllWinner A31 SoC

As high quality and efficient graphics are rapidly becoming the ‘must-have’ technology for any mobile product, AllWinner naturally picked the SGX544MP core as the graphics engine to power their A31 system. Thanks to the 2nd generation USSE (Universal Scalable Shader Engine) inside the PowerVR SGX Series5XT family, the SGX544MP offers the right balance between multicore performance and power efficiency. It enables AllWinner’s A31 platform to sustain the high frame rates of next generation UIs and console-quality game achieving stunning visual effects and improved polygon performance as well as develop GPU compute applications like image processing or in-game physics effects.

image
The PowerVR Series5XT SGX GPU IP family

Designers now appreciate that many key applications benefit from using Imagination’s PowerVR low power, highly efficient GPUs. PowerVR’s revolutionary tile-based, deferred shading architecture allows a very small area of a die to deliver higher performance and image quality at lower power consumption compared to other competing technologies.

image

A detailed look at Imagination’s PowerVR SGX Series5XT 54xMP graphics IP core

Imagination is now the leader in the growing Chinese tablet market

The AllWinner A31 processor has been designed to target the growing tablet market. DigiTimes estimates that Chinese SoC developers will enjoy robust shipment growth in 2012. AllWinner make sure that devices integrating their SoCs are always up to date with the latest version of Android, yet recognise that an affordable pricing policy is a key factor for the wider adoption of smartphone and tablets.

imageThe AllWinner A31 SoC inside the numerous tablets coming out of China

GizmoChina was one of the first websites to preview some of the Chinese tablets with the AllWinner A31 SoC, like the Onda V872, Teclast Ampe P88 and A10. ICOO is also planning to use this powerful SoC in their latest tablet.

When looking at the main specifications and design, these tablets typically offer a high resolution display, several gigabytes of RAM and plenty of internal memory. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has become the operating system of choice, although most of the OEMs are promising upgradeability to Android 4.2. And with an attractive price at around 200-300 U.S. dollars, these devices come just in time for your late holiday shopping.

PowerVR Insider – Imagination’s very own Dream Factory

With CES and MWC fast approaching, we look forward to more similar announcements from our growing ecosystem partners, as more and more semiconductor manufacturers understand that Imagination’s PowerVR graphics offer not just a unique feature set but a clear path towards differentiation and name recognition. As the market is clearly showing demand for this type of devices, we are dedicated to helping our current and future partners understand what the best combination of raw graphics and compute performance is to address their processing needs.

Imagination’s PowerVR GPU IP supports all major graphics and compute APIs including the latest versions of OpenGL ES, OpenGL, and OpenCL from Khronos and DirectX from Microsoft. We are also founding members of the HSA Foundation, which offers our customers insight into the future trends of mobile and embedded computing.

Our PowerVR Insider programme offers developers free access to our PowerVR Graphics SDK as well as the support they require through our dedicated, newly re-launched PowerVR Insider Forum. We are also frequently attending numerous local events like ChinaJoy, SIGGRAPH Asia and GDC China, constantly maintaining and improving our relationship with the Chinese developer community.

For more news and announcements from Imagination and our partners, follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR) and come back to our blog.

TSMC OIP 2012 – David Harold [Director of PR, Imagination Technologies] interview [chipestimate YouTube channel, Oct 26, 2012]

Here are a couple of general slides from PowerVR Hardware Architecture and Application Performance Guidelines by Gordon MacLauchlan [a [52:31] long video presentation on AltDevBlogADay YouTube channel, Feb 23, 2012]:image

Tile Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR) [6:40 – 8:31]

image

  • Pixel perfect, submission order independent Hidden Surface Removal (HSR)
    – Visible fragments only
  • On-chip depth, stencil and colour buffers
    – Fast
    – System memory access minimized
  • Intermediate buffer space is required

Architecture Overview [13:00 – 15:36]image

  • Three core module
    – Tile Accelerator (TA)
      • Performs clipping, projection and culling
      • Divides the viewport into tiles
         and records geometry covering each tile
    – Image Synthesis Processor (ISP)
      • Performs hidden surface removal
    – Texture & Shading Processor (TSP)
      • Prepares visible fragments to be textured
         and shaded by the USSE
  • Shared components
    – Universal Scalable Shader Engine (USSE)
      • A flexible, multi-threaded processor capable of
        executing vertex, fragment and GP-GPU instructions
    – Parameter Buffer (PB)
      • A buffer used to store intermediate data, such as
        processed geometry and related render states

And the video itself:

PowerVR Hardware Architecture and Application Performance Guidelines by Gordon MacLauchlan Originally aired during AltDevConf, February 12th, 2012

Series5XT (SGXMP) [Wikipedia, excerpted on Jan 4, 2013]

  • PowerVR SGXMP variants available as single and multi-core IP 543XT, 544XT, and 554XT series
    • Performance scales 95% linearly with number of cores and clock speed
  • Available in single to 16 core variants
    • SGX543
      • (single core) 35M polygon/s @200 MHz
      • (two cores) 68M polygon/s @200 MHz
        [? A31 110M polygon/s @324 MHz ?]
      • (four cores) 133M polygon/s @200 MHz
      • (eight cores) 266M polygon/s @200 MHz
      • (sixteen cores) 532M polygon/s @200 MHz
  • Licensees:
    • Sony
    • Renesas
    • Texas Instruments
    • Apple
    • Intel
    • Samsung
    • MStar
    • MediaTek

PlayStation Vita

  • SGX543MP4+ (four cores) @400MHz

Renesas G5/AG5/APE5R

  • SGX543MP2 (two cores)

Texas Instruments OMAP5430 & OMAP5432

  • SGX544MP2 (two cores) @532MHz

Apple A5 – SGX543MP2 (two cores) [7]

Apple A5X – SGX543MP4 (four cores) @250MHz

Apple A6 – SGX543MP3 (three cores) @266MHz

Apple A6X – SGX554MP4 (four cores) @300MHz [8]

DEMO SGX544.MOV [TabletteTactile YouTube channel.March 4, 2012]

Démonstration 3D temps réel sur un OMAP 4 équipée d’un PowerVR SGX 544. Vu sur le stand Texas Instrument au MWC2012.

Note: Within OMAP4 only the OMAP4470 has PowerVR SGX544, and only a single core. Meanwhile Allwinner’s PowerVR SGX544 is a dual core (8 pipelines, i.e. 8 shaders, or as they call it “logic cores”).

Tech Focus: IMG on PowerVR mobile graphics [GamesIndustry, April 13, 2011]

IMG talk graphics tech featured in iPad 2 and Sony NGP

Weeks on from the iPad 2 launch, the full graphical power of the new tablet is finally coming into focus – and it’s frankly monstrous, a massive statement of intent from Apple on its plans for the games market.

Apple’s new A5 processor features a dual core PowerVR SGX 543 – the same graphics tech that’s set to be featured in the forthcoming Sony NGP, the difference being that the new PlayStation portable will double the core count, bringing an unprecedented amount of graphical power to the mobile space.

UK-based Imagination Technologies is the engineering force behind the PowerVR graphics tech: in this interview, director of PR David Harold and business development manager Kristof Beets talk frankly about its current range of mobile processors and their capabilities, the importance of its support for DirectX and Open GL standards and discusses some of the custom features found in their GPUs. They also go into depth on the scalability of their hardware and look forward to the emergence of the ARM-based version of Windows.

Finally, if you thought the performance increase between the iPad and iPad 2 GPUs was impressive, the final question we put to Imagination should help put some perspective on that…

Q: A lot of people have tried to bring a TBDR solution to market, but only IMG has achieved it. Why do you think the mainstream GPU manufacturers have stuck to their traditional approaches?

IMG: Partly because although the idea sounds simple it’s actually very hard to do it in practice – especially in such a way that looks like any other renderer to developers. Partly because we have a lot of the fundamental patents.

The total Series5 and Series5XT portfolio enables the industry’s broadest range of performance/area options, from the smallest single pipe SGX520 core up to the 64-pipe SGX543 MP16. All popular APIs and OS are supported by all SGX cores, including OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1, OpenVG 1.1, OpenGL 2.0/3.0 and DirectX 9/10.1 on Symbian, Linux, Android, WinCE/Windows Mobile and Windows 7/Vista/XP.

Q: Now seems to be the time where key IMG partners are transitioning across from the SGX535 onto the SGX543 multi-core products – aside from the multi-core angle, what are the key enhancements you’ve made to the basic architecture itself?

IMG: Our Series5XT architecture (SGX543/544/554) is a significant mid-life update to the Series5 architecture (SGX520/530/531/535/540) which was driven based on market and customer feedback. Key in this feedback was increased interest in compute performance both for GP-GPU via OpenCL but also for higher-quality pixels via more complex shaders as a result we doubled the floating point performance per pipeline in the newer cores while maintaining efficiency via co-issue (dual instruction) capabilities.

Additionally there was an increased interest in compositing User Interfaces and as a result we added dedicated hardware for YUV formats to enable optimal integration with video and camera image streaming. Most of the other changes are much lower level and focused on improving the efficiency of the design including both improved performance and further reduced bandwidth usage – a specific area of focus has been anti-aliasing and polygon throughput.

Q: Is the architecture flexible enough to allow for the GPU cores to carry out non-graphics based tasks? What sort of applications can you see here?

IMG: Absolutely. SGX already has OpenCL conformance and all SGX parts are OpenCL capable. There’s all kinds of things that you can use that for from game-world physics to image processing and enhancement

Q: Stereoscopic 3D is swiftly being embraced by many different types of media, with games taking the spearhead. Does PowerVR architecture offer any specific advantages that makes 3D easier to work with?

IMG: The additional workload required for S3D places significant additional demands on the graphics processor – and PowerVR SGX is more than up to the task. PowerVR SGX graphics acceleration cores are ideally suited to S3D graphics, either using single or multi-processor cores for resolutions up to full 1080p HD, and are capable of supporting all commonly used S3D formats such as frame sequential, side-by-side, top-bottom and interlaced.

Using SGX it is possible to quickly upgrade existing 3D content to deliver full S3D, bringing new realism to 3D games and navigation, and exciting new possibilities for user interfaces in a wide range of applications. The PowerVR SGX tile-based deferred rendering architecture is ideally suited to deal with the increased demands of S3D – which include twice the geometry processing workload and commensurate increases in fill/texturing workload. The scalable nature of the SGX architecture and its ability to efficiently support multiple contexts ensure that the best possible S3D user experience can be achieved using SGX powered devices while maintaining SGX’s unique low power, high performance credentials.

Q: Out of interest, Sony says that it has a PowerVR SGX543 MP4+ inside Sony NGP… what does the plus stand for?

IMG: That’s to indicate the work Sony has done to implement the graphics. What they licensed is a SGX543 MP4.

Q: You have other multi-core projects in the pipeline for the series five hardware. What advantages do they have over the SGX543?

IMG: In addition to SGX543 we have also announced SGX544 which offers the same performance characteristics but enables fully compliant DX9 Feature Level 9_3 capabilities so basically an extra bump in feature set to meet Microsoft requirements. Also available is the SGX554 which is our first 8 pipeline part (SGX543/544 have 4 processing pipelines) which offers improved compute density for customers focused on GP-GPU and shader processing since a single SGX554 would offer the same compute capability as an SGX543 MP2 but not the same geometry or pixel throughput.

This means that SGX554 offers more GFLOPS per mm2 since the design avoid overscaling the geometry and pixel capabilities of the design versus customer requirements – basically we do not believe in “one size fits all” solutions and we thus offer our customers various options.

Q: Finally, we see Apple talking about a 9x performance increase from iPad 1 to iPad 2 and benchmarking of the devices sees at least a 4x “real world” boost in GPU performance. With SGX535 as the baseline, what are your performance targets for your hardware going forward. I’m sure I read somewhere you were looking at a 100x increase within five years

IMG: Yes we are.

See also:
PowerVR Graphics: We Render Funny [With Imagination Blog on TBDR, April 20, 2012]
POWERVR Series5 Graphics SGX architecture guide for developers [Imagination Technologies whitepaper, July 5, 2011]
PowerVR Performance Recommendations [Imagination Technologies whitepaper, Feb 8, 2012]

Imagination Technologies announces POWERVR SGX544MP multi-processor graphics IP [Imagination Technologies press release, June 10, 2010]

Highly efficient and truly scalable multi-processing graphics technology adds DirectX 9 capability to high-performance POWERVR Series5XT

Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG; “Imagination”), a leading multimedia and communications chip technologies company, announces POWERVR SGX544, a high performance graphics core for embedded and mobile applications with full support for Microsoft DirectX 9 and multi-processor capability.

POWERVR SGX544 is the second member of Imagination’s POWERVR Series5XT family.

POWERVR SGX544 can be implemented as a high-performance 4-pipe single core, or in multiprocessor (MP) configurations of between 2 and 16 cores (8 to 64 pipes.).

As embedded and desktop application platforms continue to converge, Imagination has seen growing demand for DirectX 9 capabilities. Building on Imagination’s long and proven track record in making DirectX capable graphics IP and software drivers, SGX544 provides full support for DirectX 9 Feature Level 3 with maximum hardware acceleration, making it ideal for tablets, computing devices and smartphones. In common with all POWERVR Series5XT cores SGX544 delivers all the benefits of SGX cores, including the highest performance per mm2 and per mW with lowest system overhead.

SGX544 also provides comprehensive market proven support for desktop OpenGL 2.1 (including X11 integration with DRI2, EXA and DRM support), OpenGL ES 1.1 & 2.0, OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 Embedded Profile, offering the widest ranges of supported APIs of any mobile or embedded graphics IP core available today. POWERVR SGX software stacks have passed rigorous Khronos and Microsoft conformance tests, guaranteeing fast time to market with high confidence across the widest range of embedded and desktop operating systems. Software configurations for Linux, Android, MeeGo, Palm’s WebOS, Nokia’s Maemo, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Samsung’s Bada Nucleus, and a variety of other RTOS are all shipping with POWERVR SGX powered devices today.

Tony King-Smith, VP marketing, Imagination, says: “We are delighted to announce our latest SGX544 DirectX 9 capable graphics core and complete driver stack. This latest core builds on the success of our MP technology, which already has five licensees and is set to deliver new levels of embedded graphics capabilities to millions of users over the next few years. SGX544 extends the Series5XT line to push the upper boundaries of performance in power and cost-constrained embedded environments, while building on our unrivalled portfolio of APIs across every significant embedded and desktop operating system.”

About POWERVR Series5XT

Members of the POWERVR SGX Series5XT Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) IP core family feature significant performance enhancements over the highly successful Series5 architecture used in the earlier SGX family of IP cores. All Series5XT SGX cores are based on a second-generation Universal Scalable Shader Engine (USSE2) that delivers significantly higher processing throughput than the earlier Series5 USSE shader engine, and include architectural extensions enabling low-power and high-performance for 2D, 3D and general purpose (GP-GPU) processing in either single core or scalable multi-processor (MP) solutions.

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE:IMG) – a global leader in multimedia and communication silicon technologies – creates and licenses market-leading processor cores for graphics, video, multi-threaded embedded processing/DSP and multi-standard communications applications. These silicon intellectual property (IP) solutions for systems-on-chip (SoC) are complemented by strong array of software tools and drivers as well as extensive developer and middleware ecosystems. Target markets include mobile phone, handheld multimedia, home consumer entertainment, mobile and low-power computing, and in-car electronics. Its licensees include many of the leading semiconductor and consumer electronics companies. Imagination has corporate headquarters in the United Kingdom, with sales and R&D offices worldwide. See: www.imgtec.com.

Imagination Technologies’ to deliver production-ready IP for POWERVR SGX543MP multi-processor graphics [Imagination Technologies press release, Nov 24, 2009]

Multi-processing graphics technology delivers true scalability to ‘super-high’ performance points

Tokyo, Japan: Imagination Technologies, the leading multimedia chip technologies company, will begin shipping fully verified production quality IP for its POWERVR SGX543MP multiprocessor graphics cores to partners before the end of December 2009. Multiple lead partners have already been working with beta versions of the core for several months and several SoCs for a range of markets incorporating SGX MP cores are already in advanced design.

Imagination reports that three of its partners now have licences for SGX MP technology, which continues to extend Imagination’s leadership of the embedded graphics acceleration market with multi-processor, shader-based solutions which address the rapidly growing demands for high performance graphics in a wide range of consumer electronics segments.

The technology can be delivered to customers in SGXMP2 (two-core) to SGXMP16 (16-core) variants. Graphics IP cores available from Imagination now range from SGX520, the world’s smallest OpenGL™ ES 2.0 mobile core, to SGX543MP solutions for high-performance console and computing devices. POWERVR SGX543MP delivers performance comparable to many desktops, laptops and games consoles.

Further details of the innovative technology behind POWERVR SGX543MP are being revealed to press and customers at the Embedded Technology Show in Yokohama, Japan from 18-20th November 2009.

Tony King-Smith, VP marketing Imagination Technologies says: “With the ability to combine up to sixteen SGX543MP GP-GPU cores on a single SoC, we are now able to deliver capabilities to our licensing  partners previously only thought the domain of the discrete GPU chipset vendors, while maintaining our unrivalled power, area and bandwidth efficiency.”

The POWERVR SGX543MP family enables POWERVR SGX543 four-pipe programmable GP-GPU cores, to be integrated in a high performance, multi-processor graphics solution without performance or silicon area compromises. SGX543MP enables highly linear scaling of all aspects of GPU performance, specifically vertex shading, pixel shading, primitive setup and overall GP-GPU* functionality, whilst maintaining full software compatibility and with virtually no overhead in bandwidth usage.

At 200MHz core frequency an SGX543MP4 (four cores) will deliver 133 million polygons per second*** and fill rates in excess of 4Gpixels/sec**. Higher frequencies or a larger number of cores each deliver more performance. At 400MHz core frequency an SGX543MP8 (eight cores) will deliver 532 million polygons per second*** and fill rates in excess of 16Gpixels/sec**.

The highly efficient POWERVR SGX543MP family delivers near linear progression in vertex and pixel processing performance, unlike competitive solutions which scale only pixel performance. An SGX543MP2 delivers effectively twice the performance of a single SGX543 without compromise. And for a given workload the same bandwidth is required no matter how many cores are deployed – SGX543MP delivers faster performance by dividing the work on-demand, dynamically load balanced in parallel between cores.

The USSE2 (Universal Scalable Shader Engine v2), a key component of Series5XT architecture at the heart of SGX543MP is a scalable multi-threaded multimedia processing engine offering up to 2x the floating point throughput of earlier Series5 SGX IP cores. An extended instruction set with comprehensive vector operations and co-issue capabilities enables advanced geometry and pixel processing as well as GP-GPU tasks. These tasks are broken down into processing packets which are then scheduled across a number of multi-threaded execution units in the USSE2. This enables optimal hardware load balancing, maximum latency tolerance and efficient gate use, all accessed through a single software programming model and compiler.

POWERVR SGX543MP features:

  • the highest performance per mW of any embedded graphics core
  • highly linear scaling (over 95% efficiency) of performance in both geometry (vertex processing) and rasterisation (pixel/fragment processing)
  • dynamic load balancing and on-demand task allocation at the pipeline level
  • no fixed allocation of given pixels to specific cores, enabling maximum processing power to be allocated to the areas of highest on-screen action
  • scalable GP-GPU compute power, which can be fully utilised through all Khronos APIs including OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1, OpenVG™ 1.x and OpenCL™
  • use any number of cores, even or odd
  • no additional work for software developers; using one driver stack for all SGX cores means applications see a common SGX architecture via the standard APIs regardless of number of cores used
  • no additional CPU load when using multiple cores or loss of performance
  • individual cores can be disabled based on workload for optimal power saving

Editor’s Notes

* GP-GPU stands for General-Purpose computation on Graphics Processing Units.

** All fill rate figures stated assuming a scene depth complexity of x2.5

*** All polygon throughput figures are based on real and achievable sustained throughput in a real SoC; they are not theoretical figures that can never be achieved in any practical application

CHIP WARS#7: WTF is PowerVR SGX540? (in new iPhone 5 LTE, new iPad 3, Galaxy S3, Kindle Fire 2) [mynextappliance YouTube channel, Aug 25, 2012]

PowerVR graphics driving mass market smartphone graphics adoption [Imagination Technologies press release, Feb 28, 2012]

Imagination partners delivering solutions for ubiquitous mobile from entry level to the world’s most advanced GPU powered mobile platforms at MWC 2012

MWC, Barcelona, Spain:  Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG, “Imagination”, “the Group”), a leading multimedia and communications technologies company, announces that the first two cores of its new PowerVR Series6 ‘Rogue’ family, G6200 and G6400, are now available and deliver the highest performance for all markets.

Single and multiprocessor PowerVR Series5 SGX GPU solutions empower the most important devices in the latest generation of mobile SoCs being shown at MWC 2012 in Barcelona (IMG’;s stand is at Hall 1, stand 1D45).

Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination says: “As smartphones become the highest volume segment in the phone market, we are driving mobile and embedded graphics performance to reach across the full range of smart mobile consumer devices, from mass market to high end in an era of ubiquitous mobile multimedia.

“Last year at MWC we said that ‘clock for clock PowerVR SGX, which has been shipping in significant volume for several years, outperforms competitive solutions, many of which have yet to ship in any volume.’ That statement remains unchanged a year later. Indeed as SGX MP opens up a wider performance gap in today’s devices PowerVR Series6 is already set to widen that gap even further to unrivalled GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs.

“PowerVR has established itself as the developer’s de facto standard across smartphones, tablets, mobile computing and games consoles, attracting an extensive community of adopters and powering iconic and much-loved products. Our partners are now delivering the most comprehensive range of solutions, from low end to high end, that truly can enable any phone or tablet device to have PowerVR, the leading GPU technology.”

Key PowerVR enabled SoC (system on chip) devices at the show include*:

  • Intel Medfield Z2460 incorporating PowerVR SGX GPU and PowerVR VXE and VXD VPU technology.
  • MediaTek MT6575 incorporating PowerVR SGX GPU technology
  • Renesas Mobile MP5232 LTE Triple-Mode Platform incorporating PowerVR SGX544 GPU technology
  • ST-Ericsson LU8540, U8540 and A9540 incorporating PowerVR™ SGX544 GPU technology
  • Texas Instruments Incorporated’s OMAP™ 5 platform, which incorporates dual SGX 544MP GPUs  (Hall 8, #8A84)

Numerous phones and tablets containing Imagination’s technologies are on display across the show.

Says Jeffrey Ju, General Manager of the Smartphone Business Unit at MediaTek: “Following the ongoing success of MT6573, which has opened up exciting opportunities for mass market, high volume smartphone GPU adoption, we are thrilled to have PowerVR graphics acceleration in the new MT6575, and to working with Imagination as a strategic partner going forward.”

Says Shinichi Yoshioka, chief operating officer at Renesas Mobile: “Renesas Mobile’s long term partnership with Imagination has led to many firsts in mobile graphics. This year’s MWC will see us both showcasing the ultra-fast and exciting graphics performance of Renesas Mobile triple mode platforms featuring advanced single and multiprocessor PowerVR GPUs. This powerful combination allows us to stay ahead of the pack to deliver compelling use cases and console-like graphics to the emerging worldwide LTE market.”

Teppo Hemia, head of smartphone and tablet platform business and architecture group at ST-Ericsson says: “By using the powerful Imagination PowerVR GPU in our new NovaThor L8450 platform, we will be able to deliver amazing graphics performance at low power consumption. For the NovaThor L8450, we selected the Imagination PowerVR GPU since it delivers the performance we need to meet our customers’ requirements for next generation mobile devices.”

Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager, OMAP platform business unit, TI says: “TI has been a long-standing partner of Imagination Technologies, yielding a relationship we take very seriously as we collaborate on future mobile processor-driven graphic applications. The company has developed a highly-differentiated GPU architecture that’s gaining incredible momentum within the applications ecosystem. The PowerVR cores leverage unified shading, deferred rendering and more—setting these GPUs ahead of the pack. Inside the OMAP 5 platform, TI is pushing the powerful dual core SGX544MP to its limits. We’re pairing it with our smart multicore architecture to establish a new graphic-driven experience guaranteed to make everyone sit up and take notice.”

Eight of Imagination’s partners, including ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Renesas Electronics and MediaTek are also already committed to developing SoCs utilizing Imagination’s PowerVR Series6 Rogue architecture, the first cores of which, PowerVR G6200 and G6400 are now announced.

Inside PowerVR

Imagination’s PowerVR utilizes a unique and extensively patented Tile-Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR) architecture for graphics, together with advanced architectural techniques such as hardware multi-threading. This, combined with substantial investment in production-ready drivers across all mobile and embedded operating systems, has resulted in Imagination leading the market for performance per mm2 and performance per mW for all of its on-chip multimedia and communications solutions.

PowerVR GPU technology is driven by one of the world’s largest engineering teams dedicated to graphics processor development, complemented by the industry’s most mature and extensive ecosystem of dedicated third party developers, who have already created hundreds of thousands of apps optimised for PowerVR enabled devices to date.

Imagination’s PowerVR graphics technologies are the de facto standard for mobile and embedded graphics, with over 125 devices shipping or in advanced design by leading semiconductor companies, and have shipped in more than 600m devices to date.

Note
* In alphabetical order

One thought on “AllWinner A31 and A31s with PowerVR graphics

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