Imagination Tech supports DirectX for ARM, x86 tablets

On the heels of yesterday’s Windows 8 demo, Imagination Tech has announced that it’s offering DirectX-capable graphics cores for both ARM- and x86-based system-on-a-chip products targeting the new OS. The firm, which develops and licenses graphics cores much like ARM does with CPU cores, points out that it’s "one of very few companies that has the experience of delivering DirectX for SoCs." The expansion of Windows toward ARM sounds like a golden opportunity for it. DirectX, of course, encompasses both 3D graphics capabilities and a broad selection of multimedia and video playback features.

Delving into specifics, Imagination Tech reveals that Texas Instruments has already licensed its PowerVR core for future OMAP system-on-a-chip products. Tablets running TI SoCs were on display at yesterday’s Windows 8 Computex keynote. Lest anyone forget, the integrated graphics component in Intel’s Z600-series Atom chips is provided by Imagination Tech. Intel uses a different IGP in desktop- and netbook-bound Atoms, but only the Z series is aimed specifically at tablets.

Imagination Tech goes on to note that most of its PowerVR cores support DirectX 9, while upcoming PowerVR Series6 cores (which are code-named Rogue) will "support from DirectX 10 up to DirectX 11." So, we might one day see DX11 Windows games scale from low-power slates to high-octane gaming PCs—an interesting prospect for sure.

I can’t resist pointing out Imagination Technologies is part-owned by Apple, and its graphics cores are used inside iPhones and iPads. Since those devices are also ARM-powered… Boot Camp for iOS, anyone?

Comments closed
    • willmore
    • 11 years ago

    [url<]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=NzAyOQ[/url<] And it's never gotten any better. If Intel can't even get drivers out for their chips that use these cores, smaller vendors aren't likely to. nVidia, AMD/ATI, and even Intel with every other graphics core they have *except* the PowerVR ones all have open source driver projects. They range from nVidia who doesn't help at all, but doesn't hinder, through AMD/ATI who provides documentation and a few developers, to Intel who has a driver team that does most of the work. But, PowerVR cores aren't represented. The efforts *to* support them have been met with resistance from Imagination Tech. [url<]http://web.archiveorange.com/archive/v/mKhJiHmrryLWpuLfP4ez[/url<]

    • djgandy
    • 11 years ago

    Well if you are polygon limited that matters. When are you ever polygon limited though?

    If you draw 1M polys per frame, you have a hell of a lot of pixel shading to do to justify the existence of so many polygons (if you are trying to make a graphically realistic scene). That is where the performance comes in.

    • djgandy
    • 11 years ago

    Without drivers the hardware doesn’t do anything.

    I’m pretty sure that the iPhone, iPad, iPad 2 and the numerous android devices all have drivers for their GPU’s.

    • Novum
    • 11 years ago

    No it’s not.

    That only distributes the triangle workload to the two rasterizers. The chip still renders triangles in incoming order and writes them in that order to the backbuffer.

    • poulpy
    • 11 years ago

    Thanks for the clarifications regarding the specs, hard to find as much details about Tegras as for the SGXs with a quick & dirty Google.

    With the only spec I had (Polygons/s -which doesn’t tell the full story at all, I agree) the Tegra family didn’t look too bad, but when looking at your bench of the 543MP2 it’s a bit of a murder in “real life”..

    Hard to see Tegra 3 challenge the SGXs now, I agree.

    Funny to see everyone and his dog wants a piece of the latest from Imagination Technologies nowadays. While back in the days of their -several- PC ventures the technology was always interesting (I broke the balls of many friends with Tile Rendering) but products always fell short in some ways (drivers, CPU requirements, no-Glide API, delays, etc).

    ps: I was comparing to the SGX 543MP4 (like you do in your conclusion) because that’s the quad core thesmileman was referring to?

    • kalelovil
    • 11 years ago

    IIRC the Radeon H6900 series uses tile-based load balancing between its two graphics engnes. Is that equivalent to tile-based rendering?

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    Can’t wait to hear people complain about the ‘tablet-ization’ of games.

    • Rza79
    • 11 years ago

    No it will have 12 shaders (8 pixel + 4 vertex). Up from 8 (4 + 4).
    It’s hard to guess how much this will improve performance bc as you’ve noticed, Tegra doesn’t use an unified pixel architecture.
    nVidia is (as usually) playing marketing tricks with the 5x performance improvement.
    If you break it down, it comes to 3x from the cpu and 2x from the gpu.
    (2x1Ghz cores -> 4×1.5Ghz cores + increase in shaders and i guess improved efficiency/frequency)

    Personally, i don’t think that nVidia can catch up with Imagination Tech.
    I don’t know why you’re refering to the SGX 543MP4 bc with Tegra 3, nVidia won’t even catch up with the 543MP2.
    [url<]http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph4216/35897.png[/url<] Let's not forget that the SGX 543MP series have free AA which is almost unheard of. [url<]http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph4216/35898.png[/url<] So yeah, as thesmileman said, the four core version of that chip is much more powerful than the GPU in the Tegra 3 line of chips.

    • RtFusion
    • 11 years ago

    Couldn’t help it:

    [url<]http://cocktails365.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/spongebob-imagination.jpg[/url<]

    • Novum
    • 11 years ago

    Desktop GPUs (besides the embedded PVRs in Atom chipsets of course) are all immediate mode renders.

    They are not doing tile based rendering and are not deferring rendering after visibility detection. The only thing that is done is that triangles, that are completely hidden, are instantly discarded by some hierarchical Z buffer algorithm. So rendering front to back is a very common performance optimization.

    • poulpy
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]The four core version of that chip is much more powerful than the GPU in the Tegra 3 line of chips. [/quote<] How do you know that, if you don't mind me asking, given that tegra 3 isn't out? A quick glance on the web returns something along the lines of: - Tegra 2 = 70M polygons/s - SGXMP (4 cores) = ~130M polygons/s - Tegra 3 = 5x Tegra 2 if you listen to nvidia but this is probably as a whole (cpu+gpu). More realistically it seems to be planned to have 3 x #shaders of Tegra 2

    • mesyn191
    • 11 years ago

    Coulda sworn that modern PC GPU’s use some TBDR trickery these days to get the performance they do. That doesn’t mean that they’re TBDR’s like those old Kryo chips were, but that combining aspects of the 2 concepts isn’t anything new.

    • willmore
    • 11 years ago

    And drivers, they need drivers.

    • Novum
    • 11 years ago

    The chips are still tile based renderers. As far as I know they are also the only ones that combine it with deferred rendering (E.g. ARM Mali chips are also tile based renderers, but don’t defer rendering)

    • thesmileman
    • 11 years ago

    PowerVR GPUs are everywhere and they are already in TIs current version, OMAP4 , and previous version of TIs OMAP. They have a huge chuck of the market and their SGXMP line that scales from 2-16 cores with the same design is insanity powerful. The four core version of that chip is much more powerful than the GPU in the Tegra 3 line of chips. Imagination Tech needs better marketing to showoff to the public just how amazing their hardware really is.

    Also Sony’s NGP console has the 4 core version of the SGXMP line.

    • megakilo
    • 11 years ago

    I can’t resist pointing out…according to wikipedia, Intel owns 16% of Imagination Tech and Apple owns 10%.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 11 years ago

    I wonder if their current cores have tile based rendering or if that died with the kyro series.

    This is pretty much where I see AMD getting in bed with ARM at least on the short term – by providing cores of a similar nature.

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