Imagination Technologies has announced new Series 6XT and Series 6XE GPUs and the IP appears to be ready for licensing. The original Series 6 (Rogue) was announced two years ago, but we’re just starting to see the first SoCs with Series 6 graphics. Apple of course led the way with the A7 SoC, which is said to feature PowerVR G6430 graphics with four clusters.
The nature announcement and lack of new features leads us to believe that the XT series is a refresh of the original 6-series. The new GPUs feature a GX prefix and so far four parts have been announced, the GX 6240, GX6250, GX6450 and GX6650. The last two are the most interesting. The GX6450 appears to be a four-cluster design, much like the G6430 used in Apple’s latest SoC. The GX6650 sounds like a tweaked G6630 with six clusters.
The XE series is designed for cost-sensitive, mass market applications – in other words it was designed to save die space. Imagination says the XE family is the smallest fully featured Open GL ES 3.0 and OpenCL capable GPU core to date. In addition to low-end phones and tablets, the XE series should find its way into wearables, set-top boxes and other devices.
The XE series consists of four parts. The G6050 is the smallest one – it doesn’t even have a single cluster and Imagination is describing it as a “half-cluster” design. It is designed for entry level phones and wearables. The G6060 is similar, but it adds lossless PVRIC2 image compression, making it suitable for TVs, tablets and set top boxes.
The G6100 is an update of the original single-cluster Rogue core, while the G6110 is also a single-cluster design with PVRIC2 support. The addition of PVRIC makes it suitable for low-cost 4K/UHD TV sets and high resolution tablets.
Of course, since we are dealing with mobile GPUs, the announcement does not mean you will start seeing SoCs with the new cores anytime soon. It took almost two years to deploy the original Rogue cores and they are just hitting the market in actual products. Since the XE and XT series are not entirely new, adoption might be somewhat faster, but we probably won’t see any products for 12 to 18 months.
Although the pace of new rollouts in the mobile GPU space tends to be slow, it should be noted that competition is heating up. Nvidia has a new 192-core Kepler derived GPU for the new Tegra and it will start licensing Maxwell IP. ARM is making a lot of noise about upcoming Mali parts and Apple is rumoured to be working on a custom GPU of its own. Unfortunately AMD is still not in the running, but Qualcomm’s Adreno parts still have plenty of ATI DNA to go around.