New PowerVR Series7XE family targets the next billion mobile and embedded GPUs

One of the main advantages of PowerVR GPUs lies in their ability to meet even the most demanding requirements across a wide range of markets, from mobile devices and smart TVs to automotive and game consoles.

If mid- to high-end devices prioritize performance per mW and useful, differentiating features, the entry-level market is driven by performance per mm2 and fast time to market.

Imagination recognized this trend early on and launched two separate PowerVR GPU families (Series6XT and Series6XE, respectively) based on the same underlying architecture but specifically tuned to address the specific needs of each market.

Today we are continuing this tradition by announcing PowerVR Series7, a new generation of GPUs that includes two families: Series7XT (more details here) and Series7XE. If the former targets ultimate performance efficiency for mid-range and high-end devices, the latter enables the latest games and apps on a wide range of entry-level devices, from IoT and wearables to affordable smartphones, tablets and 4K smart TVs.

PowerVR Series7 - PowerVR Series7XE architectureThe underlying architecture of PowerVR Series7XE GPUs

Are you in the market for an affordable device?

Designing GPUs optimized for the entry-level market is becoming a real necessity, given the impact and sheer volume of these markets. A recent study from Juniper Research forecasts that the smartphone market will be driven by growth in emerging markets, due to a continued surge in sales and adoption of affordable ($75-$150) and ultra-affordable (sub-$75) devices. Juniper Research also estimates that most of the 1.2 billion mobile device shipments in 2014 will be driven by multiple emerging markets experiencing a surge in adoption of low cost smartphones and tablets.

ABI Research estimates that shipments of sub-$200 smartphones will grow from about 238 million units in 2013 to an estimated 758 million by 2018, accounting for 44% of all smartphone shipments.

Additionally, IDC recently reported over 19 million wearable devices had shipped worldwide this year, a threefold increase over 2013. Wearable shipments will eventually reach 111.9 million worldwide in 2018 alone.

Defined by flexibility

All these affordable devices have different requirements and design priorities. This is why we’ve made configurability the central focus of PowerVR Series7XE GPUs.

For example, some markets need 10-bit YUV color depths, virtualization and security (e.g. smart TVs and set-top boxes for DRM) while others just want AEP support (e.g. smartphones and tablets running Android 5.0 Lollipop); wearables however do not need any of the above, but instead require the smallest GPU capable of supporting OpenGL® ES.

Therefore giving our customers the possibility to make informed choices and trade off features versus area has been a key driver of this new family of GPUs. Given the sheer volumes mentioned above it is easy to understand why it is essential not to pay with costly silicon area for unneeded features.

It is also essential to ensure that platforms using Series7XE GPUs offer no compromise in user experience. We’ve thus created a set of market-leading core features for which we offer optional packs that are highly relevant for specific markets. This scalability ensures that software investments made at the high-end can be re-used for entry devices, accelerates time to market and significantly reduces cost.

World’s smallest AEP capable GPU

The PowerVR Series7XE family includes two GPUs; you can find the full list of specs here:

  • PowerVR GE7400: 1/2 shading cluster, 16 ALU cores
  • PowerVR GE7800: 1 shading cluster, 32 ALU cores

Remarkably, PowerVR G7400 is the world’s smallest AEP (Android Extension Pack) compliant GPU, enabling the full Android 5.0 experience – including the latest games and apps – on devices where manufacturing costs, silicon area and power consumption are the main priorities. AEP is a collection of extensions that complement OpenGL ES 3.1 and provide native support for advanced graphics functionality:

  • Guaranteed fragment shader support for shader storage buffers, images, and atomics (fragment shader support is optional in OpenGL ES 3.1.)
  • Tessellation (more about tessellation here) and geometry shaders
  • ASTC LDR texture compression format (Series7 GPUs support both LDR and HDR formats)
  • Per-sample interpolation and shading
  • Different blend modes for each color attachment in a frame buffer

F1 Race Stars from CodemastersF1 Race Stars from Codemasters uses OpenGL ES 3.0

PowerVR Series7XE USC internal architecture

PowerVR Series7XE GPUs feature one USC (Unified Shading Cluster) which contains between eight and 16 pipelines. Each pipeline has two high-precision FP32 ALU cores and four low power FP16 ALU cores which can co-issue instructions with the special function block.

The diagram below offers an overview of Series7XE USCs:

PowerVR Series7 - PowerVR Series7XE USCThe internal architecture of PowerVR Series7XE USCs

Additional features

PowerVR Series7XE GPUs implement several compression technologies that reduce memory bandwidth usage and minimize power consumption. These compression technologies (more about them here) are extremely useful for devices that require high fillrates yet have limited memory bandwidth available (e.g. tablets, 4K DTVs).

PowerVR Series7 - PVR3C compressin technologies (PowerVR Series7XT, PowerVR Series7XE)PVR3C compression technologies are designed to reduce bandwidth and minimize power consumption

PowerVR Series7XE GPUs also implement virtualization, enabling the creation of an enterprise-grade, system-wide security framework for mobile and embedded devices. You can read more about the benefits of virtualization in PowerVR GPUs here.

Final words

They say that the best things come in small packages. This is certainly true for the new PowerVR Series7XE GPUs; they deliver the best performance per mm2 in the industry, while supporting the latest graphics and compute API standards – making them the perfect graphics processors for entry-level devices.

For more news and announcements related to PowerVR, keep coming back to our blog and follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR, @PowerVRInsider, @GPUCompute).

 

Editor’s Note

* PowerVR Series6XE Rogue cores are based on published Khronos specifications, and are expected to pass the Khronos Conformance Testing Process. Previous generation PowerVR GPU cores have already achieved conformance. Current conformance status can be found at www.khronos.org/conformance.

OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos.

OpenGL is a registered trademark and the OpenGL ES logo is a trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc. used by permission by Khronos.

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