Intel Atom Processors Will Not Use Intel Graphics, PowerVR GPUs Planned

Subject: Processors, Chipsets, Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: PowerVR, Intel, gpu, atom

In a surprising move, Intel plans to move away from using it's own graphics processors with the next "full fat" Atom processors. Intel has traditionally favored its own graphics chipsets; however, VR-Zone reports that Intel has extended it's licensing agreements with PowerVR to include certain GPU architectures.

These GPU licenses will allow Intel to implement a PowerVR SGX545 equivalent graphics core with its Cedarview Atom chips. While the PowerVR graphics core is no match for dedicated GPUs or likely that found in Intel's own Sandy Bridge "HD 3000" series, the hardware will allow Atom powered systems to play video with ease thanks to hardware accelerated decodding of "MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, VC1, WMV9 and the all-important H.264 codec."  VR-Zone details the SGX545 GPU as being capable of "40 million triangles/s and 1Gpixles/s using a 64-bit bus" at the chips original 200mhz.

Intel plans to clock the mobile chips at 400mhz and the desktop graphics cores at 640mhz.  The graphics cores will be capable of resolutions up to 1440x900 and supports VGA, HDMI 1.3a and Display Port 1.1 connections for video output.  DirectX 10.1 support is also stated by VR-Zone to be supported by the SGX545, which means that the net-top versions of Atom may be capable of running the Aero desktop smoothly.

This integration by Intel of a GPU capable of hardware video acceleration will certainly make Nvidia's ION chipsets harder to justify for HTPC usage.  ION chipsets will likely reliquish marketshare to cheaper stock Intel Atom platforms for basic home theater computers, but will still remain viable in the more specific market using ION + Atom chips as light gaming platforms in the living room.

Source: VR-Zone

May 10, 2011 | 09:37 AM - Posted by Alphacheez (not verified)

With the resolution topping out at 1440x900 they aren't going to make it into any 1080p HDTV HTPC setups.

At stock clocks this is a weaker GPU than the iPad 2 (SGX543MP2), though with support for more modern standards (Dx10.1 vs. 9 and OpenGL 3.2 vs. 2.1). The main advantage other than hardware accelerated video decode over intel graphics is die size and power consumption, since intel IGPs with decent HW video decode are a bigger and more power hungry.

I worry about linux support for these GPUs; I seem to recall there were issues with the first Atoms that used PowerVR GPUs not having good support in linux due to licensing issues with PowerVR drivers.

May 10, 2011 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, if the reported resolution cap holds true even for the net-top atoms, the 1080p crowd may also remain in ION+atom's hands but for 720p or lower video streaming it should make a cheap media box.

heh, yeah that's kind of crazy to think about ;) Is the ipad 2 capable of HD playblack? just curious. Lower power consumption is always good. The first atom netbooks were something like... the Intel chipset and graphics were sucking down 4 times the power of the CPU! I could be remembering that wrong though :P

Hmm.. hopefully someone has reverse engineered something... or PowerVR decides to support linux ;)

May 10, 2011 | 03:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

android fully supports powervr and so does crapples ios how do you think this old school desktop player is still in business. they whore'd designs to anyone that would want to license them

May 11, 2011 | 01:20 PM - Posted by Sihastru

That information isn't completely accurate, the 1440x900 is for the internal LVDS, that is a port soldered "internally" on some motherboards (all laptops, also some mini-ITX boards have it) and not the standard external display options (that can surely support higher resolutions, at least 1920x1200 or 1920x1080 if you prefer).

LVDS is used in laptops because it requires very thin (twisted pair) cables that can be routed to the display easily and with very low impact on the overall design (usually it's routed near one of the hinges that hold the display assembly).

May 15, 2011 | 07:13 PM - Posted by James (not verified)

Yes, it also supports VESA's eDP (embedded Display Port) 1.1 technology, which means all current and future notebook/netbook displays are supported.