Imagination Technologies has announced its PowerVR IMG B-Series, a series of graphics processing unit (GPU) chip designs with multi-core customization for a variety of markets.

The graphics chip designs can deliver up to 6 teraflops of performance when used with the high-end configuration. The four families of GPUs can be used with internet of things (IoT) devices, low-end to high-end smartphones, cloud computing systems, digital TVs, desktops, and autonomous cars.

The new designs are Imagination’s latest piece of intellectual property, which it licenses to chipmakers. These chipmakers then customize the designs to suit their needs and manufacture the chips. The earliest customer chips are expected to hit the market in the second half of 2021, Imagination product management director Kristof Beets said in an interview with VentureBeat.

The B-Series is at the high end of the market with four cores and promises a 30% reduction in power and 25% size reduction over previous generations, along with a 2.5 times-higher fill rate than competing cores. Imagination said the high-end tech could be used in chips for future game consoles or desktops.

The U.K.-based company announced its A-Series GPUs a year ago, offering high-performance cores operating at 2 watts of power, which makes the devices ideal for applications that require performance efficiency, Beets said.

“Our customers asked me the hard question, ‘Could you make those two GPUs work together and act like a bigger GPU?’ And that is exactly what we did in response to those market requests with B-Series,” Beets said. “These cores can either work on the same problem or operate independently on different applications.”

Advanced multi-core architecture

Above: Imagination’s BXS design for autonomous cars GPUs.

Image Credit: Imagination

B-Series is a further evolution, with as many as 33 different configurations. For example, you can take the cores and make a chiplet out of them. Chiplets can be combined with other chiplets to make more complex chips. A GPU could also be used to back up AI neural networking processing if more horsepower was needed.

“That makes it much cheaper to design your GPUs,” Beets said.

B-Series also contains the first ISO 26262-capable cores, which are safety-compliant, with IMG BXS providing a wide range of options for automotive. Those cores can range from small, safety-fallback cores to multiple teraflops of computing for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and high-performance autonomous vehicles.

IMG B-Series is available today and already has lead licensees for every product family. In the sub-families, BXE offers primary and secondary scaling, where one core does most of the work and the other cores handle supplemental tasks. The cores are connected via HyperLane for multitasking.

The BXT and BXM sub-families feature multi-primary full-core scaling. That means they can combine the power of all of the cores to deliver maximum single-app performance or enable different cores to run independent applications. And the BXS automotive cores have a multi-primary design for performance scaling, as well as safety checks that are performed across cores to confirm accuracy.

Beets said he expects high-end solutions to launch first in the second half of 2021. He said the graphics also have ray-tracing features, which improve shadow and lighting effects and have been a mainstay of rival Nvidia’s graphics-chip strategy.

Image compression technology

Above: Imagination Technologies’ BXT graphics processing unit chip design.

Image Credit: Imagination

IMG B-Series also includes IMGIC, an advanced image compression technology that provides bandwidth-saving options. It offers up to four levels of compression, from pixel-perfect lossless modes to an extreme bandwidth-saving mode, which provides a guaranteed 4-to-1 or better compression rate.

This means more flexibility for chip designers to optimize for performance or to reduce system costs while maintaining a good user experience. IMGIC is compatible with every core across the B-Series range, bringing the benefits of compression to even the smallest cores.

The IMG B-Series cores

The IMG B-Series is available in four product families that offer specialized cores for specific market needs:

  • IMG BXE: It can drive 1-16 pixels per clock (PPC) and scales from 720p resolution to 8K with a range of GPUs specifically designed for user-interface rendering and entry-level gaming. BXE offers up to 25% area saving compared to previous generation cores and up to 2.5 times the fill rate density compared to the competition.
  • IMG BXM: This includes high-efficiency performance cores balancing fill rate and compute in a compact silicon area for mid-range mobile gaming and complex UI solutions for DTV and other markets.
  • IMG BXT: This is focused on high performance for real-world applications, scaling from the device in your hand to the datacenter. The flagship B-Series GPU is a four-core part generating 6.0 teraflops of performance, 192 gigapixels per second, and 24 trillion operations per second (TOPS) for AI.
  • IMG BXS: These automotive GPUs are ISO 26262-capable. They range from entry to premium, delivering solutions for next-generation HMI, UI display, infotainment, digital cockpit, and surround view to multi-teraflop compute-focused configurations for autonomy and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

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