PowerVR Furian GPU crams more performance into less area

Imagination Technology's last major GPU architecture revision was 2010's Rogue. The comapny has produced six iterations on the architecture in the meantime, and now it's time for something new. The upcoming Furian architecture promises to be the biggest departure in ImgTech GPU design since the earliest days of the present decade. Furian is designed to deliver improved performance in the mobile VR, AR, and machine intelligence applications with a reduced silicon and power consumption footprint.

The biggest architectural change is an increase in ALU width from 16 pipelines per cluster to 32. Each cluster also doubles up from four bilinear samples per clock to eight. Anandtech's Ryan Smith wrote a fairly detailed overview of the new architecture, which can be read here. Smith notes that while each cluster is substantially wider, the new design may be somewhat less flexible and that the increased capabilities per cluster may be offset somewhat by a decreased cluster count when Furian is integrated into SoCs. 

The design house says that when compared to Series 7XT Plus parts built on the same manufacturing process, Furian should be good for a 33% improvement in GFLOPS density, an 80% increase in fillrate density, and an improvement of at least 70% in what it called "gaming density," claiming that the performance improvement in real world applications is "better than the sum of the parts."

 

Furian is still based on the tile-based deferred rendering techniques PowerVR has been known for since the 3Dfx-era original Series 1 chips and the PowerVR2 chips used in the Sega Dreamcast. The last PowerVR products in the PC space was the Series 3 design incorporated into ST Microelectronics' Kyro II 3d accelerator chips. The company has focused on the mobile space in the intervening years, even as tile-based rendering has returned to the desktop.

Imagination claims "multi-dimensional scalability" with different designs for low-end and high-end cores. The company says Furian has been designed for streamlined integration into SoCs and is optimized for manufacture on sub-14-nm processes. Furian will be compatible with OpenCL, Vulkan, and other APIs, and boasts the features needed for PowerVR's real-time ray-tracing pet project.

Gamers won't find PowerVR Furian graphics chips in stores, but the architecture is sure to find a home in future high-end mobile SoCs found in upmarket smartphones, tablets, and mobile VR headsets.

The company isn't planning to retire Rogue any time soon. The older architecture will stick around for integration into less expensive SoCs. Imagination says it has already licensed Furian cores to partners and that GPU core variants will be introduced in products around the middle of this year.

Comments closed
    • tsk
    • 3 years ago

    Yes! More power to my pocket computer!!!

    • Shobai
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]The older architecture will remain integration into less expensive SoCs. [/quote<] Looks like you might be missing something along the lines of a 'for' there.

    • nico1982
    • 3 years ago

    Krogoth will likely be unimpressed, but Vin Diesel surely approves.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      [url<]https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/92/c0/26/92c0260d5a52fec55c777639b52b160c.jpg[/url<]

    • ozzuneoj
    • 3 years ago

    Scale it up, put it on a PCI-E card and call it Kyro 3 please.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      I’d love to see them reenter that market. They’ve carried quite the lead in the mobile market in efficiency, and now desktop parts are starting to do things mobile parts did like TBR and FP16.

        • ozzuneoj
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah, if they’re even pretending to shoot for 120fps, 4K and VR with this thing (and its apparently on 7nm?) those are pretty high goals to shoot for. If they didn’t have to cram it into a cell phone or tablet I think they could make a pretty interesting product.

        Its a terrible market to try to enter into though, even if it is sort of gaining popularity again. Look at what happened to them 15 years ago…

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          Yeah, I don’t know that it would be a great idea, I’d just like to see some new blood in these markets 😛

          I read that the Gen graphics guys also really wanted to do a dedicated card, but Intel management hadn’t the will or desire.

          • nico1982
          • 3 years ago

          Curiously the current iPad Pro is roghly 5 MP, 4K is 9 MP and Furian has an 80% higher fillrate than Rogue 😛

          • Hattig
          • 3 years ago

          If only there was a large company that currently uses PowerVR in its mobile devices, that is currently reliant on third party GPUs in its desktop and laptop devices, that could be a core customer and fund such a beast.

          (However, I guess that right now, getting AMD GPUs between 1 and 2 TFLOPS for pretty cheap prices makes that financially unviable.)

            • tipoo
            • 3 years ago

            I don’t know why Apple hasn’t bought them by now frankly. It’s probably a case of “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free”, but going from taking PowerVR designs and customizing them, to tailoring them from the ground up for their own projects, seems entirely Apple.

        • NoOne ButMe
        • 3 years ago

        It would be nice.
        I think if they enter they would enter in a more niche, professional market. Or just high cost niche market.

        Plus in the PC market, NVidia has so much mindshare, I think a company with nearly zero would be suicide.

        Wouldn’t it be great if AMD hadn’t been stupid enough to throw away the Radeon name mindshare. Especially now with Rx… Radeon X…

      • NTMBK
      • 3 years ago

      Why? Desktop discrete graphics is a declining niche, and they’re already in the biggest selling device on the planet.

        • ozzuneoj
        • 3 years ago

        Because Ryzens.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        Complete PC sales are down, dedicated GPU sales are going *up*. It’s actually never been more lucrative.

    • adisor19
    • 3 years ago

    Too early for A11 but I’ll bet A12 will have a modified version of it on board.

    Adi

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      It’s going to be in shipping products by the middle of this year, and Apple had often been the most eager to get their hands on the newest GPU architecture from them (and of course is their largest and most preferred customer). Might make the cut for the September iPhone event.

        • nico1982
        • 3 years ago

        New iPads are also expected by late spring/early summer.

      • Rza79
      • 3 years ago

      Apple is using their own GPU design for a while now. Only the fixed unit of the GPU is provided by PowerVR.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        I think from Kanters article it would be closer to say they took Powervrs design, made it much better at FP16, and added headache free data conversion functions. Comparable to say, Microsoft/Sony/AMDs semi-custom console designs, where for instance Sony took the 8 ACEs from a future GCN version for the PS4 chip.

        [url<]http://www.realworldtech.com/apple-custom-gpu/[/url<]

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