Imagination Technologies Unleashes Warrior MIPS P5600 CPU Core Aimed at Embedded and Mobile Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Networking, Processors, Mobile | October 18, 2013 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: SoC, p5600, MIPS, imagination

Imagination Technologies, a company known for its PowerVR graphics IP, has unleashed its first Warrior P-series MIPS CPU core. The new MIPS core is called the P5600 and is a 32-bit core based on the MIPS Release 5 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).

The P5600 CPU core can perform 128-bit SIMD computations, provide hardware accelerated virtualization, and access up to a 1TB of memory via virtual addressing. While the MIPS 5 ISA provides for 64-bit calculations, the P5600 core is 32-bit only and does not include the extra 64-bit portions of the ISA.

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The MIPS P5600 core can scale up to 2GHz in clockspeed when used in chips built on TSMC's 28nm HPM manufacturing process (according to Imagination Technologies). Further, the Warrior P5600  core can be used in processors and SoCs. As many as six CPU cores can be combined and managed by a coherence manager and given access to up to 8MB of shared L2 cache. Imagination Technologies is aiming processors containing the P5600 cores at mobile devices, networking appliances (routers, hardware firewalls, switches, et al), and micro-servers.

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A configuration of multiple P5600 cores with L2 cache.

I first saw a story on the P5600 over at the Tech Report, and found it interesting that Imagination Technologies was developing a MIPS processor aimed at mobile devices. It does make sense to see a MIPS CPU from the company as it owns the MIPS intellectual property. Also, a CPU core is a logical step for a company with a large graphics IP and GPU portfolio. Developing its own MIPS CPU core would allow it to put together an SoC with its own CPU and GPU components. With that said, I found it interesting that the P5600 CPU core was being aimed at the mobile space, where ARM processors currently dominate. ARM is working to increase performance while Intel is working to bring its powerhouse x86 architecture to the ultra low power mobile space. Needless to say, it is a highly competitive market and Imagination Technologies new CPU core is sure to have a difficult time establishing itself in that space of consumer smartphone and tablet SoCs. Fortunately, mobile chips are not the only processors Imagination Technologies is aiming the P5600 at. It is also offering up the MIPS Series 5 compatible core for use in processors powering networking equipment and very low power servers and business appliances where the MIPS architecture is more commonplace.

In any event, I'm interested to see what else IT has in store for its MIPS IP and where the Warrior series goes from here!

More information on the MIPS 5600 core can be found here.

... and Intel officially jumps into the TV or set top box business too

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2013 - 09:40 AM |
Tagged: Intel, tv, intel media, imagination, PowerVR, intel tv

Ryan spotted prototype Intel TV hardware at CES in the Imagination suite and today Intel Media's Erik Huggers has confirmed that Intel will be producing some sort of set top box or TV for sale in the near future.  It will likely be in partnership with Imagination and their PowerVR technology and might possibly be tied to the new NUC that Intel released recently and which would fit the definition of set top box, plus keep your cat nice and warm.  While The Inquirer did get confirmation that Intel will release hardware to compete with Apple and Google before the end of the year but they would not specify exactly what that hardware would be.  They plan to set themselves apart from NetFlix and other content streamers by offering live TV streams which will probably not make them popular with established cable or satellite proveders but with Intel's deep pockets and the possiblity of personalized advertising they could well steal customers away.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel has confirmed that it is working on hardware to stream live and on-demand content to televisions in 2013."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

CES 2013: Caustic, now part of Imagination, Shows Series2 Ray Tracing Accelerators

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2013 - 08:38 AM |
Tagged: series2, ray tracing, imagination, ces 2013, CES, caustic

We have talked with Caustic on several occassions over the past couple of years about their desire to build a ray tracing accelerator.  Back in April of 2009 we first met with Caustic, learning who they were and what the goals of the company were; we saw early models of the CausticOne and CausticTwo and a demonstration of the capabilities of the hardware and software model. 

While at CES this year we found the group at a new place - the Imagination Technologies booth - having been acquired since we last talked.  Now named the Caustic Series2 OpenRL accelerator boards, we are looking at fully integrated ASICs rather than demonstration FPGAs. 

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This is the Caustic 2500 and it will retail for $1495 and includes a pair of the RT2 chips and 16GB of memory.  One of the benefits of the Caustic technology is that while you need a lot of memory, you do not need expensive, fast memory like GDDR5 used in today's graphics cards.  By utilizing DDR2 memory Imagination is able to put a whopping 16GB on the 2500 model.

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A key benefit of the Caustic ray tracing accelerators comes with the simply software integration.  You can see above that a AutoDesk Maya 2013 is utilizing the Caustic Visualizer as a simple viewport into the project just as you would use with any other RT or preview rendering technique.  The viewport software is also available for 3ds max. 

There is a lower cost version of the hardware, the Caustic 2100, that uses a single chip and has half the memory for a $795 price tag.  They are shipping this month and we are interested to see how quickly, and how eager developers are, to utilize this technology.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2013: Prototype Intel TV System Spotted at Imagination Suite

Subject: Systems | January 10, 2013 - 11:16 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, Intel, tv, intel media, imagination, PowerVR

While visiting with the folks at Imagination, responsible for the graphics system known as PowerVR found in many Apple and Samsung SoCs, we were shown a new, innovative way to watch TV.  This new system used an impressively quick graphic overlay, the ability to preview other channels before changing to them and even the ability to browse content on your phone and "toss" it to your TV. 

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The software infrastructure is part of the iFeelSmart package but the PowerVR team was demonstrating the performance and use experiences that its low power graphics system could provide for future applications.  And guess what we saw was connected to the TV?

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With all of the information filtering out on Intel's upcoming dive into the TV ecosystem, it shouldn't be a surprise that find hardware like this floating around.  We aren't sure what kind of hardware Intel would actually end up using for the set top box expected later this year, but it is possible we are looking at an early development configuration right here. 

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

ARM snaps graphics marketshare from the dragon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: arm, qualcomm, marketshare, SoC, imagination, Vivante, jon peddie, mali

ARM has made some serious impact on the mobile market with their Mali GPU on their SoC, with Jon Peddie Research reporting they have doubled their market share over the past year.  That number is even more impressive when you pair it with the 91.3% growth in the mobile GPU market.  Another player, Vivante, quadrupled their share of the market and while their products are found primarily in Asia you may recognize them as a member of the HSA.  Their success comes at a cost to Imagination and Qualcomm, both of whom have seen their market shares drop. NVIDIA is currently making up 2.5% of the GPU market for tablets and smartphones which is not too bad when you consider that the other four main players all license their processors out while NVIDIA remains the sole provider of its Tegra SoCs.  Get more numbers at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP DESIGNERS ARM and Vivante have achieved significant market share gains in the system-on-chip (SoC) GPU market while Imagination and Qualcomm have seen their market shares fall."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

AFDS 2012: HSA Foundation Joins AMD, ARM, Ti, Imagination and MediaTek with Open Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: texas instruments, mediatek, imagination, hsa foundation, hsa, arm, amd, AFDS

Today is a big day for AMD as they, along with four other major players in the world of processors and SoCs, announced the formation of the HSA Foundation.  The HSA Foundation is a non-profit consortium created to define and promote an open approach to heterogeneous computing.  The primary goal is to make it easier for software developers to write and program for the parallel power of GPUs.  This encompasses both integrated and discrete of which the HSA (heterogeneous systems architecture) Foundation wants to enable users to take full advantage of all the processing resources available to them.

On stage at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, WA, AMD announced the formation of the consortium in partnership with ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments; some of the biggest names in computing. 

The companies will work together to drive a single architecture specification and simplify the programming model to help software developers take greater advantage of the capabilities found in modern central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs), and unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in heterogeneous processors.

HSA Foundation_Logo.png

There are a lot of implications in this simple statement and there are many questions that are left open ended to which we hope to get answered this week while at AFDS.  The idea of a "single architecture specification" set a lot of things in motion and makes us question the direction of both AMD and the traditionally ARM-based companies of the HSA Foundation will be moving in.  AMD has had the APU, and the eventual complete fusion of the CPU and GPU, on its roadmap for quite a few years and has publicly stated that in 2014 they will have their first fully HSA-capable part.  We are still assuming that this is an x86 + Radeon based part, but that may or may not be the long term goal; ideas of ARM-based AMD processors with Radeon graphics technology AND of Radeon based ARM-processors built by other companies still swirl amongst the show.  There are even rumors of Frankenstein-like combinations of x86 and ARM based products for niche applications.

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Looks like there is room for a few more founding partners...

Obviously ARM and others have their own graphics IP (ARM has Mali, Imagination Technology has Power VR) and those GPUs can be used for parallel processing in much the same way that we think of GPU processing on discrete GPUs and APUs today.  ARM processor designers are well aware of the power and efficiency benefits of utilizing all of the available transistors and processing power correctly and the emphasis on an HSA-style system design makes a lot of sense moving forward.  

My main question for the HSA Foundation is its goals: obviously they want to promote the simplistic approach for programmers, but what does that actually translate to on the hardware side?  It is possible that both x86 and ARM-based ISAs can continue to exist with libraries and compilers built to correctly handle applications for each architecture, but that would seem to me to be against the goals of such a partnership of technology leaders.

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In a meeting with AMD personnel, the most powerful and inspiring idea from the HSA Foundation is summed up with this:

"This is bigger than AMD.  This is bigger than the PC ecosystem."

The end game is to make sure that all software developers can EASILY take advantage of both traditional and parallel processing cores without ever having to know what is going on under the hood.  AMD and the other HSA Foundation members continue to tell us that this optimization can be completely ISA-agnostic – though the technical blockages for that to take place are severe. 

AMD will benefit from the success of the HSA Foundation by finally getting more partners involved in promoting the idea of heterogeneous computing, and powerful ones at that.  ARM is the biggest player in the low power processor market responsible for the Cortex and Mali architectures found in the vast majority of mobile processors.  As those partners trumpet the same cause as AMD, more software will be developed to take advantage of parallel computing and AMD believes their GPU architecture gives them a definite performance advantage once that takes hold.  

What I find most interesting is the unknown – how will this affect the roadmaps for all the hardware companies involved?  Are we going to see the AMD APU roadmap shift to an ARM-IP system?  Will we see companies like Texas Instruments fully integrate the OMAP and Power VR cores into a single memory space (or ARM with Cortex and Mali)?  Will we eventually see NVIDIA jump onboard and lend their weight towards true heterogenous computing?

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We have much more the learn about the HSA Foundation and its direction for the industry but we can easily say that this is probably the most important processor company collaboration announcement in many years – and it does so without the 800 pound gorilla that is Intel in attendance.  By going after the ARM-based markets where Intel is already struggling to compete in, AMD can hope to create a foothold with technological and partnership advantages and return to a seat of prominence.  This harkens back to the late 1990s when AMD famously put together the "virtual gorilla" with many partners to take on Intel.

Check out the full press release after the break!