Providing our readers with the latest news and updates from Imagination Technologies and our partner ecosystem has been our mission for the last four years.

The list below includes some of the most exciting features published recently, accompanied by a summary that provides additional context or further updates for each item. Without further ado, here are the top 10 articles that most of you declared as favorites in 2015.

PowerVR GT7900: redefining performance efficiency in graphics

Introduced at MWC 2015, PowerVR GT7900 is a super-GPU designed for ultimate performance in embedded applications; this new Series7XT design features 512 ALU cores (vs. 192 in the GX6650) arranged in 16 unified shading clusters (USCs).

PowerVR_GT7900_PowerGearing

For those who want to learn more about the internal architecture of our Rogue USCs and our definition of an ALU core, you can read this blog post from my colleague Rys and this in-depth feature from AnandTech.

Trying out the new Vulkan graphics API on PowerVR GPUs

Vulkan™ is a next-generation, high-performance graphics and compute API developed by the Khronos Group designed to address some of the shortcomings of OpenGL®.

Vulkan API_explicit control

Imagination is part of the Vulkan Working Group and has been working on developing a proof-of-concept driver for our PowerVR Rogue GPUs. You can find a preview of Vulkan running on a PowerVR Rogue GPU here; we’ve also organized a series of informative webinars and written extensively about the advantages of Vulkan on PowerVR here.

MIPS goes to Pluto

2015 was the landmark year when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation for its long-awaited encounter with the world’s most famous dwarf planet.

from playstation to pluto

The CPU of choice for New Horizons is a MIPS-based Mongoose-V chip clocked at 12 MHz. Mongoose-V is a radiation-hardened version of the MIPS R3000 CPU (the same processor at the heart of the original Sony PlayStation game console) and is manufactured by Synova, a Florida-based company that specializes in turnkey aeronautics solutions.

Gnomes per second in Vulkan and OpenGL ES

Introduced around SIGGRAPH 2015, Gnome Horde is an extremely popular Vulkan demo from Imagination; this video captured in real time shows Gnome Horde running under Android on the Intel-based Nexus Player, a consumer device integrating a PowerVR G6430 GPU.

Vulkan CPU vs OpenGL ES CPU: Note how OpenGL ES cannot do multi-threading

The application batches draw calls into tiles and renders a tile at a time; each time a tile goes out of view, comes into view or changes its level of detail, the application regenerates a command buffer. By avoiding changes in the command buffer, overall CPU usage is reduced significantly in the Vulkan version compared to the OpenGL ES one.

New MIPS64-based Loongson processors break performance barrier

This year we saw a new MIPS64-based, high-performance architecture and two corresponding processors coming out of China courtesy of Loongson Technology. During a launch event, the company’s chief architect introduced a 64-bit processor architecture called GS464E, and Loongson-3A2000 and 3B2000, two quad-core processors based on GS464E.

Loongson-3B1500 MIPS64

Both Loongson-3A2000 and 3B2000 are 4-way superscalar processors built on a 9-stage, super-pipelined architecture with in-order execution units, two floating-point units, a memory management unit, and an innovative crossbar interconnect.

MIPSfpga programme opens up the MIPS architecture to universities worldwide

Invented at Stanford University, the MIPS CPU architecture has always been open to the extent that the original design was published, and an expert reading the wonderful Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach (written by Dr. John L. Hennessy and Dr. David A. Patterson) can understand how to build their own; MIPS-like, MIPS-compatible and such phrases are frequently heard in academic circles.

MIPSfpga-architecture

With MIPSfpga, educators and students finally have free access to the full RTL code of a modern MIPS CPU built by Imagination and used today in many embedded platforms. In addition, the MIPSfpga package includes the essential coursework, tutorials and hands-on labs needed to teach a computer architecture course to undergraduate and graduate students.

A look at the PowerVR graphics architecture: Tile-based rendering

When programming a traditional desktop GPU, a developer sends work to the GPU and it gets drawn straight away. There’s little connection to what else has already been drawn, or will be drawn in the future. Triangles in, pixels out, job done! But, crucially the job is done with no context of what’s already happened, or what might happen in the future.

Tile Based Deferred Architecture

PowerVR GPUs are about as different as they come in that respect. My colleague Rys describes how he had the chance to figure our TBDR architecture out and why five years later he’s still here, helping figure out how PowerVR will evolve in the future.

Creator Ci40 dev kit puts the IoT in a box for £80

To accelerate development and foster innovation in the IoT market, Imagination has recently introduced Creator Ci40 – the most complete development kit for the Internet of Things.

00 - Creator Ci40 IoT kit - Inside the box - no logo

The package includes three sensors, two battery-powered wireless boards, and a powerful IoT hub, providing the hardware components required to quickly prototype IoT wireless devices. In addition, every kit includes a free subscription to FlowCloud, a robust cloud platform for connecting embedded devices to the Internet.

Implementing fast, ray traced soft shadows in a game engine

The article firstly describes the structure of a traditional ray traced shadow algorithm that produces crisp, hard shadows like the ones we might see on a perfectly cloudless day.

PowerVR Ray Tracing - rendering pipeline-3f

However, most shadows in the real world have a gradual transition between lighter and darker areas – this soft edge is called a penumbra. Penumbras are caused by different factors related to the physics of light; even though most games model light sources as a dimensionless point source, in reality light sources have a surface. By using our hybrid rendering techniques designed for PowerVR Wizard GPUs, developers can completely eliminate the need for cascaded shadow maps.

Firefox OS now running on a MIPS-based reference tablet

Firefox OS is an operating system powered by web-powered technologies and is emblematic of what can be achieved using HTML5 core technologies. Firefox OS is based on Gecko, a rendering engine designed by Mozilla to push pixels on mobile screens using WebGL.

Firefox OS

Now that Mozilla is refocusing Firefox OS on the growing IoT market, we look forward to seeing developers use our range of Creator development kits to create new connected devices for consumer and enterprise applications.

From everyone here at Imagination, we wish you a Happy New Year and we look forward to an even more exciting 2016. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR, @ImaginationTech) for more news and announcements.

About the author: Alex Voica

Profile photo of Alex Voica

Before deciding to pursue his dream of working in technology marketing, Alexandru held various engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies in Europe. His background also includes research in computer graphics and VR at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa. You can follow him on Twitter @alexvoica.

View all posts by Alex Voica