PowerVR

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PowerVR is a division of Imagination Technologies (formerly VideoLogic) that develops hardware and software for 2D and 3D rendering, and for video encoding, decoding, associated image processing and DirectX, OpenGL ES, OpenVG, and OpenCL acceleration.

The PowerVR product line was originally introduced to compete in the desktop PC market for 3D hardware accelerators with a product with a better price/performance ratio than existing products like those from 3dfx Interactive. Rapid changes in that market, notably with the introduction of OpenGL and Direct3D, led to rapid consolidation; most of the smaller players, like PowerVR, were pushed from the marketplace. PowerVR responded by introducing new versions with low-power electronics that were aimed at the laptop computer market. Over time this developed into a series of designs that could be incorporated into system-on-a-chip architectures suitable for handheld device use.

PowerVR accelerators are not manufactured by PowerVR, but instead their integrated circuit designs and patents are licensed to other companies, such as Texas Instruments, Intel, NEC, BlackBerry, Renesas, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Freescale, Apple, NXP Semiconductors (formerly Philips Semiconductors), and many others.

Technology[edit]

The PowerVR chipset uses a method of 3D rendering known as tile-based deferred rendering (often abbreviated as TBDR). As the polygon generating program feeds triangles to the PowerVR (driver), it stores them in memory in a triangle strip or an indexed format. Unlike other architectures, polygon rendering is (usually) not performed until all polygon information has been collated for the current frame. Furthermore, the expensive operations of texturing and shading of pixels (or fragments) is delayed, whenever possible, until the visible surface at a pixel is determined — hence rendering is deferred.

In order to render, the display is split into rectangular sections in a grid pattern. Each section is known as a tile. Associated with each tile is a list of the triangles that visibly overlap that tile. Each tile is rendered in turn to produce the final image.

Tiles are rendered using a process similar to ray-casting. Rays are cast[dubious ] onto the triangles associated with the tile and a pixel is rendered from the triangle closest to the camera. The PowerVR hardware typically calculates the depths associated with each polygon for one tile row in 1 cycle.[dubious ]

This method has the advantage that, unlike a more traditional z-buffered rendering pipeline[neutrality is disputed], no calculations need to be made to determine what a polygon looks like in an area where it is obscured by other geometry. It also allows for correct rendering of partially transparent polygons, independent of the order in which they are processed by the polygon producing application. (This capability was only implemented in Series 2 and one MBX variant. It is generally not included for lack of API support and cost reasons.) More importantly, as the rendering is limited to one tile at a time, the whole tile can be in fast on-chip memory, which is flushed to video memory before processing the next tile. Under normal circumstances, each tile is visited just once per frame.

PowerVR is a pioneer of tile based deferred rendering. Microsoft also conceptualised the idea with their abandoned Talisman project. Gigapixel, a company that developed IP for tile-based deferred 3D graphics, was purchased by 3dfx, which in turn was subsequently purchased by Nvidia. Nvidia currently has no official plans to pursue tile-based rendering.

ARM began developing another major tile based deferred rendering architecture known as Mali after their acquisition of Falanx.

Intel uses a similar concept in their integrated graphics solutions. However, their method, coined zone rendering, does not perform full hidden surface removal (HSR) and deferred texturing, therefore wasting fillrate and texture bandwidth on pixels that are not visible in the final image.

Recent advances in hierarchical Z-buffering have effectively incorporated ideas previously only used in deferred rendering, including the idea of being able to split a scene into tiles and of potentially being able to accept or reject tile sized pieces of polygon.

Today, the PowerVR software and hardware suite supports video encoding, decoding, associated image processing and Direct X, OpenGL ES, OpenVG, and OpenCL acceleration.[1]

Power VR chipsets[edit]

Series 1 (NEC)[edit]

VideoLogic Apocalypse 3Dx (NEC PowerVR PCX2 chip)

PowerVR's initial products were available as the OEM graphics on some Compaq models,[2] as an add-on card for other OEMs,[3] and the retail VideoLogic Apocalypse 3D[4] card.

Series 2 (NEC)[edit]

The second generation PowerVR2 ("PowerVR Series 2", chip codename "CLX2") chip found a market in the Dreamcast console between 1998 and 2001. As part of an internal competition at Sega to design the successor to the Saturn, the PowerVR2 was licensed to NEC and was chosen ahead of a rival design based on the 3dfx Voodoo 2. Thanks to the performance of the PowerVR2, several Dreamcast games such as Quake III Arena could rival their PC counterparts in quality and performance. However, the success of the Dreamcast meant that the PC variant, sold as Neon 250, appeared a year late to the market and was at that time mid-range at best.

Series 3 (STMicro)[edit]

Kyro II.

In 2001, STMicroelectronics adopted the third generation PowerVR3 for their STG4000 KYRO and STG 4500 KYRO II (displayed) chips. The STM PowerVR3 KYRO II, released in 2001, was able to rival the more expensive ATI Radeon DDR and NVIDIA GeForce 2 GTS on high in graphic benchmarks of the time, despite not having hardware Transform and lighting (T&L). As games were increasingly optimized for hardware T&L, the KYRO II lost its performance advantage.

Series 4 (STMicro)[edit]

STM's STG5000 chip, based upon the PowerVR4, did include hardware T&L but never came to commercial fruition. It and the KYRO 3 (2D/3D AIB) were shelved due to STMicro closing its graphics division.

MBX[edit]

PowerVR achieved great success in the mobile graphics market with its low power PowerVR MBX. MBX, and its SGX successors, are licensed by seven of the top ten semiconductor manufacturers including Intel, Texas Instruments, Samsung, NEC, NXP Semiconductors, Freescale, Renesas and Sunplus. The chips are in use in many high-end cellphones including the original iPhone, Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson P1 and Motorola RIZR Z8, as well as some iPods.

There are two variants: MBX and MBX Lite. Both have the same feature set. MBX is optimized for speed and MBX Lite is optimized for low power consumption. MBX can be paired up with an FPU, Lite FPU, VGP Lite and VGP.

PowerVR Video Cores (MVED/VXD) and Video/Display Cores (PDP)[edit]

PowerVR's VXD is used in Apple iPhone, and their PDP series is used in some HDTVs, including the Sony BRAVIA.

Series 5 (SGX)[edit]

PowerVR's Series5 SGX series features pixel, vertex, and geometry shader hardware, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and DirectX 10.1 with Shader Model 4.1.

The SGX GPU core is included in several popular systems-on-chip (SoC) used in many portable devices. Apple uses the A4 (manufactured by Samsung) in their iPhone 4, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. Texas Instruments' OMAP 3 and 4 series SoC's are used in the Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 8.9", Barnes and Noble's Nook HD(+), BlackBerry PlayBook, Nokia N900, Sony Ericsson Vivaz, Motorola Droid/Milestone, Motorola Defy, Motorola RAZR D1/D3, Droid Bionic, Archos 70, Palm Pre, Samsung Galaxy SL, Galaxy Nexus, Open Pandora, and others. Samsung produces the Hummingbird SoC and uses it in their Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab, Samsung Wave S8500 Samsung Wave II S8530 Samsung Wave III S8600, Meizu M9 and Nokia N9 devices.

Intel uses the SGX 540 in its Medfield platform.[5]

Series 5XT (SGXMP)[edit]

PowerVR Series5XT SGXMP chips are multi-core variants of the SGX series with some updates. It is included in the PlayStation Vita portable gaming device with the MP4+ Model of the PowerVR SGX543, the only intended difference, aside from the + indicating features customized for Sony, is the cores, where MP4 denotes 4 cores (quad-core) whereas the MP8 denotes 8 cores (octo-core). The Allwinner A31 (quad-core mobile application processor) features the dual-core SGX544 MP2. The Apple iPad 2 and iPhone 4S with the A5 SoC also feature a dual-core SGX543MP2. The iPad (3rd generation) A5X SoC features the quad-core SGX543MP4.[6] The iPhone 5 A6 SoC features the tri-core SGX543MP3. The iPad (4th generation) A6X SoC features the quad-core SGX554MP4. The Exynos variant of the Samsung Galaxy S4 sports the tri-core SGX544MP3 clocked at 533  MHz

Series 6 (Rogue)[edit]

PowerVR Series6 Imagination’s architecture, codenamed ‘Rogue’. ST-Ericsson (now defunct) announced that its Nova application processors would include Imagination’s next-generation PowerVR Series6 ‘Rogue’ architecture.[7] MediaTek announced new quad-core MT8135 System-on-Chip (two ARM Cortex-A15 and two ARM Cortex-A7 cores) for the tablets.[8] Renesas announced its R-Car H2 SoC includes the G6400.[9] Allwinner Technology A80 SoC, (4 Cortex-A15 and 4 Cortex-A7) that is available in the Onda V989 tablet, features a PowerVR G6200 GPU[10]

Series 6XE[edit]

PowerVR Series6XE GPUs are based around Series6/6XT and designed as entry-level chips aimed at offering roughly the same fillrate compared to the 5XT series. They however feature refreshed API support such as OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2 and DirectX 9.3 (9.3 L3).[11]

Series 6XT[edit]

The new PowerVR Series6XT Rogue architecture aims at reducing power consumption further through die area and performance optimization providing a boost of up to 50% compared to Series6 GPUs. Those chips sport PVR3C triple compression system-level optimizations and UltraHD deep color.[12]

List of PowerVR chipsets[edit]

  • [1] Official Imgtec data
  • [2] USSE (Universal Scalable Shader Engine) pipes/TMUs
  • [3] USSE2 (Universal Scalable Shader Engine 2) pipes/TMUs
  • [4] USC (Unified Shading Cluster) pipes/TMUs per cluster]
  • All models support Tile based deferred rendering (TBDR)

Series 1[edit]

Model Launch Fab (nm) Memory (MiB) Core clock (MHz) Memory clock (MHz) Config core1 Fillrate Memory
MOperations/s MPixels/s MTextels/s MVertices/s Bandwidth (GB/s) Bus type Bus width (bit)
PCX1 1996 500 4 60 60 1:0:1:1 60 60 60 0 0.48 SDR 64
PCX2 1997 350 4 66 66 1:0:1:1 66 66 66 0 0.528 SDR 64

Series 2[edit]

  • All models are fabricated with a 250 nm process
  • All models support DirectX 6.0 and the PMX1 supports MiniGL
Model Launch Memory (MiB) Core clock (MHz) Memory clock (MHz) Config core1 Fillrate Memory
MOperations/s MPixels/s MTextels/s MVertices/s Bandwidth (GB/s) Bus type Bus width (bit)
CLX2 1998 8 100 100 1:0:1:1 100 100 100 0 0.8 SDR 64
PMX1 1999 32 125 125 1:0:1:1 125 125 125 0 1 SDR 64

Series 3[edit]

Model Launch Fab (nm) Memory (MiB) Core clock (MHz) Memory clock (MHz) Config core1 Fillrate Memory
MOperations/s MPixels/s MTextels/s MVertices/s Bandwidth (GB/s) Bus type Bus width (bit)
STG4000 2000 250 32/64 115 115 2:0:2:2 230 230 230 0 1.84 SDR 128
STG4500 2001 180 32/64 175 175 2:0:2:2 350 350 350 0 2.8 SDR 128
STG4800 Never Released 180 64 200 200 2:0:2:2 400 400 400 0 3.2 SDR 128
STG5500 Never Released 130 64 250 250 4:0:4:4 1000 1000 1000 0 4 DDR 128

Series 4[edit]

Model Year Die Size (mm2)[1] Config core Fillrate (@ 200 MHz) Bus width (bit) API (version)
MTriangles/s[1] MPixel/s[1] DirectX OpenGL
MBX Lite Feb 2001 4@130 nm? 0/1/1/1 1.0 100 64 7.0, VS 1.1 1.1
MBX Feb 2001 8@130 nm? 0/1/1/1 1.68 150 64 7.0, VS 1.1 1.1

Series 5[edit]

Model Year Die Size (mm2)[1] Config core[2] Fillrate (@ 200 MHz) Bus width (bit) API (version) GFLOPS(@ 200 MHz) Frequency
MTriangles/s[1] MPixel/s[1] OpenGL ES OpenGL Direct3D
SGX520 Jul 2005 2.6@65 nm 1/1 7 100 32-128 2.0 N/A N/A 0.8 200
SGX530 Jul 2005 7.2@65 nm 2/1 14 200 32-128 2.0 N/A N/A 1.6 200
SGX531 Oct 2006 65 nm 2/1 14 200 32-128 2.0 N/A N/A 1.6 200
SGX531 Ultra Oct 2006 65 nm 2/1 19 ~400 32-128 2.0 N/A N/A 3.1 @527 Mhz 527
SGX535 Nov 2007 65 nm 2/2 14 400 32-128 2.0 2.1 9.0c 1.6 200
SGX540 Nov 2007 65 nm 4/2 20 400 32-128 2.0 2.1 N/A 3.2 200
SGX545 Jan 2010 12.5@65 nm 4/2 40 400 32-128 2.0 3.2 10.1 3.2 200

Series 5XT[edit]

Model Date Clusters Die Size (mm2) Config core[4] Fillrate Bus width
(bit)
HSA-features API (version) GFLOPS(@ 200 MHz,per core)
MPolygons/s (GP/s) (GT/s) OpenGL ES OpenGL OpenCL Direct3D
SGX543 Jan 2009 1-16 5.4@32 nm 4/2 35 3.2 ? 128-256 ? 2.0 2.0? 1.1 9.0 L1 7.2
SGX544 Jun 2010 1-16 5.4@32 nm 4/2 35 3.2 ? 128-256 ? 2.0 0.0 1.1 9.0 L3 7.2
SGX554 Dec 2010 1-16 8.7@32 nm 8/2 35 3.2 ? 128-256 ? 2.0 2.1 1.1 9.0 L3 14.4

These GPU can be used in either single-core or multi-core configurations.[13]

Series 6 (Rogue)[edit]

Power VR Series 6 GPUs have 2 TMUs/cluster [14]

Model Date Clusters Die Size (mm2) Config core[4] SIMD lane Fillrate Bus width
(bit)
HSA-features API (version) GFLOPS(@ 600 MHz)
MPolygons/s (GP/s) (GT/s) OpenGL ES OpenGL OpenCL Direct3D
G6100 Feb 2013 1 ??@28 nm 1/4 16 ? 2.4 2.4 128 ? 3.1 2.x 1.2 9.0 L3 38.4(FP32) / 57.6(FP16)
G6200 Jan 2012 2 ??@28 nm 2/2 32 ? 2.4 2.4 ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 76.8/115.2
G6230 Jun 2012 2 ??@28 nm 2/2 32 ? 2.4 2.4 ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 76.8 / 115.2
G6400 Jan 2012 4 ??@28 nm 4/2 64 ? 4.8 4.8 ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 153.6/230.4
G6430 Jun 2012 4 ??@28 nm 4/2 64 ? 4.8 4.8 ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 153.6 / 230.4
G6630 Nov 2012 6 ??@28 nm 6/2 96 ? 7.2 7.2 ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 230.4 / 345.6

Series 6XE[edit]

Power VR Series 6XE GPUs were announced on January 6, 2014.[11][15]

Model Date Clusters Die Size (mm2) Config core[4] SIMD lane Fillrate Bus width
(bit)
HSA-features API (version) GFLOPS(@ 650 MHz)
MPolygons/s (GP/s) (GT/s) OpenGL ES OpenGL OpenCL Direct3D
G6050 Jan 2014 0.5 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 9.0 L3 ?? / ??
G6060 Jan 2014 0.5 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 9.0 L3 ?? / ??
G6100 (XE) Jan 2014 1 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 9.0 L3 ?? / ??
G6110 Jan 2014 1 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 9.0 L3 ?? / ??

Series 6XT[edit]

Power VR Series 6XT GPUs were unveiled on January 6, 2014.[12][12]

Model Date Clusters Die Size (mm2) Config core[4] SIMD lane Fillrate Bus width
(bit)
HSA-features API (version) GFLOPS(@ 650 MHz)
MPolygons/s (GP/s) (GT/s) OpenGL ES OpenGL OpenCL Direct3D
GX6240 Jan 2014 2 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 ?? / ??
GX6250 Jan 2014 2 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 83.2/166.4
GX6450 Jan 2014 4 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 166.4/332.8
GX6650 Jan 2014 6 ??@28 nm ?/? ? ? ?? ? ? ? 3.1 3.2 1.2 10.0 250/500

References[edit]

  1. ^ Texas Instruments announces multi-core, 1.8GHz OMAP4470 ARM processor for Windows 8, By Amar Toor, June 2, 2011, Engadget
  2. ^ "Compaq Selects PowerVR 3D Graphics Architecture for Next- Generation, High-Performance Presarios Home PCs". Imagination Technologies Limited. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "VideoLogic Targets PC OEMs with PowerVR 3D Accelerator Card". Imagination Technologies Limited. 
  4. ^ "VideoLogic Launches PowerVR-Based 3D Graphics Card Apocalypse 3D". Imagination Technologies Limited. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Intel's Medfield & Atom Z2460 Arrive for Smartphones: It's Finally Here, by Anand Lal Shimpi, January 10, 2012, anandtech
  6. ^ Apple iPad 2 GPU Performance Explored: PowerVR SGX543MP2 Benchmarked, by Anand Lal Shimpi, 2011/03/12, Anandtech
  7. ^ "Imagination partners drive mobile and embedded graphics to new level". 15 February 2011. , Imagination Technologies Ltd.
  8. ^ "MediaTek Introduces Industry Leading Tablet SoC, MT8135". , MediaTek Inc.
  9. ^ "R-Car H2". , Renesas Electronics Corporation Ltd
  10. ^ "Pictures and Specs for CubieBoard 8 Development Board Powered by AllWinner A80 SoC". 
  11. ^ a b Imagination Technologies Announces Entry-Level PowerVR Series6XE GPU Family, January 6, 2014, Imagination
  12. ^ a b c Imagination Technologies Announces PowerVR Series6XT Architecture, January 6, 2014, Imagination
  13. ^ TI Announces OMAP4470 and Specs: PowerVR SGX544, 1.8 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9, by Brian Klug, 6/2/2011, AnandTech, Inc.
  14. ^ http://www.anandtech.com/show/7335/the-iphone-5s-review/7
  15. ^ Imagination drives highly-advanced PowerVR Series6 architecture into all key entry-level mobile and consumer segments, January 6, 2014, Imagination

External links[edit]