With the emphasis on smartphones and tablets at this year’s CES, it should come as no surprise that the various SoC IP developers are focusing their announcements around the show, and Imagination Technologies is among them. In 2011 Imagination announced their next generation of SoC PowerVR GPUs, the Series 6 family, based on the PowerVR Rogue architecture.  Now just under a year later Imagination has announced that they’ve officially released their first GPU designs to licensing for inclusion into SoCs.

Shedding more light on feature support for the first time, Imagination has announced that the baseline graphics feature set for Series 6 will include support for OpenGL ES “Halti”, the current working name for ES 3.0, itself derived from OpenGL 3.x. In terms of DirectX generations, this would make Series 6 a DirectX 10 part, analogous to the GeForce 8/9/200 series, the Radeon 2000-4000 series, and Intel’s HD2000/3000 iGPUs. Interestingly enough Imagination will also be offering designs that are DirectX 11.1/OpenGL 4.x compliant, which would bring them to parity with the very latest GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA.

Meanwhile on the compute side OpenCL will also be supported, and while Imagination doesn’t list the specific version we believe they will be conformant up to version 1.1. Microsoft’s DirectCompute is not specifically mentioned, however at a minimum the DX11.1 parts would need to support it.

Unfortunately at this time Imagination is still playing their cards close to their chest, so while we know what APIs Series 6 supports, we don’t know much about the configuration of the first two GPUs: G6200 and G6400. G6200 features two “compute clusters”, while G6400 features four of them, though beyond shader blocks we don’t know what a compute cluster entails.

PowerVR Series 5XT Architecture Diagram

Most likely Imagination is configuring their GPUs in a method similar to the SGX543 series, where a fixed frontend is coupled with a specific number of shader blocks and ROPs, along with several fixed function DSPs. The biggest question perhaps is whether Series 6’s geometry performance will once again be fixed; SGX543 only scaled the number of USSE2 pipelines, so while Imagination could grow the number of pixels they could deal with geometry performance was solely a function of a given GPU’s clockspeed.

Long term Imagination is planning to have designs that offer up to 1 TFLOP of shader performance, which would be nearly 10 times the theoretical shader performance of the SGX543MP16. The initial G6200 and G6400 will be much more conservative, though we don’t have specific performance estimates for them yet.

Finally, as Imagination is an IP vendor, there isn’t any kind of timeline on availability as this is up to their customers. The only SoC announced to use Series 6 so far is ST-Ericsson’s Nova A9600, which is not scheduled to arrive until sometime in 2013. Given the fabrication ramp-up schedule for most SoCs, any Series 6 equipped SoC is still a year out if not more; in the meantime there are still a number of ARM A15 + SGX543/544 scheduled for later this year. And for larger, more capable GPUs such as the SGX545 the release gap has been closer to 2 years, so DirectX 11.1 SoCs in particular are almost certainly 2014 products assuming Imagination gets a DX11.1 GPU design out this year.

We’ll have much more on Series 6 later this year as further designs are announced and Imagination publishes more details about the underpinnings of their PowerVR Rogue architecture, so stay tuned.

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison
  PowerVR Series 5XT PowerVR Series 6 Adreno 2xx Adreno 3xx Mali-400 Mali-6xx Kal-El GeForce
DirectX 9_3 10/11.1* 9_3 >9_3? N/A 11 9_3
OpenGL ES 2 3 2 3 2 2/3? 2
OpenCL 1.1 1.1? N/A 1.1 N/A 1.1 N/A
Availability Now 2013? Now H2 2012 Now H2 2012 Now


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  • t90 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    argh... ignore
  • R3MF - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    "PowerVR has announced that the baseline graphics feature set for Series 6 will include support for OpenGL ES “Halti”, the current working name for ES 3.0, itself derived from OpenGL 3.x. Interestingly enough PowerVR will also be offering designs that are DirectX 11.1/OpenGL 4.x compliant"

    Is there any reason to believe that OpenGL ES Halti [[won't]] support tessellation, a feature now standard in both DirectX and OpenGL for some time now?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    It's highly unlikely that Halti will call for tessellation. Tessellation is an OpenGL 4.x feature; Halti is only targeting OpenGL 3.x.
  • R3MF - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    is there any documentation for this?

    not that i don't believe you, but info on Halti has been very light on the ground.

  • R3MF - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Taken from semiaccurate (for my sins):

    "All members of the Series6 family support all features of the latest graphics APIs including OpenGL ES ‘Halti’, OpenGL 3.x/4.x, OpenCL 1.x and DirectX10 with certain family members extending their capabilities to full WHQL-compliant DirectX11.1 functionality"

    Does the fact that Rogue can do OpenGL 4.x indicate that OpenGL ES Halti can do tessellation, or is it really Halti really only a streamlined version of the OpenGL 3.3 feature set?
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Or just 1x? This makes it sound like the 4x GPUs are "only" giving you 4x the pixel hardware and not 4x the geometry, but Vita sure looks a lot better than anything else I've seen using an SGX 543...

    Oh well, kind of a moot point given it's the most powerful portable either way.
  • GnillGnoll - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    It has close to 4x the geometry performance of a single 543.
  • BarryHowarth - Sunday, January 15, 2012 - link


    Given that the iPad 3 is going to be released in 2 months time & the comments on here regarding the first RTM devices with the series 6 gpus is 2013 at the earliest, is it safe to assume that the iPad 3 will have a beefed up series 5 gpu and not a series 6 gpu as every other tech site seems to be fantasising ?

    If you can answer this I would be very interested to read what you have to say,


  • gescom - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link


    Fantasising ?
    Within three months not the 2013.
    PowerVR Series6 GPU cores are available for licensing now.

  • BarryHowarth - Saturday, April 7, 2012 - link

    Can a company license IP and get a product out in just 3 months? I don't know, but that seems quite quick.

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