by Anton Shilov
03/10/2010 | 11:54 PM
Imagination Technologies, the designer of PowerVR multimedia processors used inside portable and consumer electronics, said that in three years from now smartphones and similar devices will pack the same amount of graphics processing horsepower as the Sony PlayStation 3 game console. In addition, they will also feature advanced functionality that PS3 lacks.
At present Imagination is designing technologies for mobile graphics processors that will power cell phones in three years from now, in 2013. Graphics capabilities and horsepower of those chips will be similar to PlayStation 3 and the graphics processors will be able to process three-dimensional graphics in 1280x720 (720p) resolution, Imagination is quoted as saying by Gizmodo web-site.
Another important aspect of the tomorrow’s graphics processing units (GPUs) for handheld devices is support for OpenCL and other technologies that enable GPU-accelerated processing. According to Imagination technologies, even currently-used PowerVR graphics cores can accelerate Flash three times faster than microprocessors for handsets. In the future, OpenCL acceleration will bring even richer set of capabilities to the forthcoming devices.
In fact, the future may be even closer than we think. Even now Imagination’s latest graphics core – PowerVR SGX545 – supports desktop application programming interfaces (APIs), including DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 in addition to mobile OpenGL ES 2.x API. The heart of PowerVR SGX545 is USSE (Universal Scalable Shader Engine), the main programmable processing unit within each PowerVR SGX545 pipeline, is a scalable multi-threaded GPU shader processing engine that efficiently processes graphics as well as many other mathematically-intensive tasks. USSE can be programmed using the GLSL language that forms part of the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, or in the C-based parallel processing language used in the OpenCL specification.
PowerVR SGX545 is available for licensing now. The IP is already proven in silicon in a test chip from Imagination and licensed by a lead partner, the company said earlier this year without disclosing any actual name; two main partners of ImgTec are Apple and Intel. In addition to PowerVR SGX545, there are off-the-shelf options to enable much improved graphics in mobile devices, for example, Nvidia Tegra and Nvidia Tegra 2, which feature both ARM processing cores as well as graphics processing capabilities and which allow to easily build new devices.
Perhaps, at present there are no graphics cores for handhelds that could rival Sony/Nvidia RSX graphics chip of the PlayStation 3 in terms of performance. However, in three years from now – in 2013 – PS3 will turn seven years old, its graphics capabilities will hardly be truly impressive and it will be find them on a device that fits into a pocket.