Imagination Technologies unveils PowerVR Series6XT GPUs, promises 50% performance gains

Imagination Technologies unveils PowerVR Series6XT GPUs, promises 50% performance gains
Imagination Technologies (IT) has unveiled its newest PowerVR graphics chip architectures and GPUs at CES 2014. Today’s announcement is of the Power VR Series 6XT “Rogue” graphics chips that are available for licensing right away, and build up on the legacy of the Series 6.

Imagination Technologies’s PowerVR Series 6XT comprises of the new GX6240, GX6250 (dual-cluster), GX6450 (4-cluster) and GX6650 (6-cluster) with only the GX6240 being area optimized, and all others - optimized for performance. Imagination Technologies uses “clusters” instead of cores in its graphics chips to refer to the fact that each cluster does not fully replicate all hardware, but only shader ALUs and texture hardware. 

IT also promises an up to 50% gain in performance with the new chips, and better power efficiency coming from finer-tuned power gating. The Series 6XT chips all support DirectX 10, OpenGL ES 3.0, and OpenCL 1.x, so basically the API support is left unchanged.

Overall, the changes IT brings to Series 6XT are incremental rather than being an overhaul of the architecture. While the company does not provide any low-level details, Series 6XT seems likely to feature the same Unified Shading Cluster (USC) fundamental architecture with a 16-wide scalar design capable of chewing through up to 4 FP32 operations per clock.

The big highlight is on efficiency with a new “PowerGearing G6XT” technology that offers even finer power gating so individual processes or even USCs can be shut down without having the GPU go idle. That’s particularly useful in casual light-stress loads. 

Notably, having announced the first three Series 6XT cores, Imagination Technologies also claims it’s reached the best performance in both GFLOPS/mm2 and GFLOPS/mW in the field. The new chips also bring the new “PVR3C” compression technology, an umbrella term for various supported compressions. Particularly interesting is the support for Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC) that is announced nearly simultaneously on PowerVR chips and Nvidia’s Tegra K1.

“Imagination, which our research shows is already the volume leader in mobile GPU, is expanding on its Rogue graphics family with the new high performance Series6XT architecture featuring innovative power management and compression technologies,” Jon Peddie Research president summed up.

Imagination Technology, the British company best known for supplying the GPUs for Apple products like the iPhone 5s and iPad Air, has opened licensing for the new chips, but don’t expect to see them just yet. Judging by the 2-year gap between the announcement and device launch, we should expect to see the Series 6XT chips around late 2015.

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