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Small GPU takes on IoT, Android devices

17 Jul 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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Imagination Technologies introduced the PowerVR Series5XE GX5300, a new Android-compatible graphics core for wearable devices and the Internet of Things. The company claims it is the smallest chip in the industry with a size of just 0.55mm2, making it ideal for low-cost, area-constrained applications.

"There have been several issues facing wide adoption of IoT and wearables devices," Alexandru Voica wrote in a company blog post. "This is because most of these devices are currently powered by sub-optimal solutions derived from smartphone chips which cause power consumption problems."

Though Imagination wouldn't share power consumption specs, EE Times found that the GPU performs at up to 1GFlops and up to 250MPx/s of peak performance at 250MHz. Additionally, the chip can handle up to 720-progressive video resolution.

The GPU leverages Imagination's PVRTC texture compression technology. Previous wearable devices could render graphics using a software-only approach or a 2D engine, but Imagination says newer devices require a GPU capable of processing high-resolution interfaces while offloading the main CPU.

The company cited graphics rendering on smart appliances as a good use of its GPU. For example, the Discovery IQ smart oven from Dacor uses a PowerVR GPU to run the Android graphical user interface.

 Imagination GPU block diagram.

Imagination GPU block diagram

"For wearables, we envision our GPUs being used for driving graphical UIs or rendering graphics in web browsing, navigation, or augmented reality apps," an Imagination spokesperson told EE Times. "Our PowerVR GX5300 GPU offers significant improvements to aid integration, reduce power consumption, and reduce area for newer process nodes, including 28nm."

The GX5300 builds on previous Series5 devices as an entry-level IoT chip. Imagination plans to scale up its Series6XE to focus on mainstream and high-end smartwatches and the IoT. Its Series6 will be targeted towards high-end wearables like smart glasses.

Imagination was an official launch partner for Android Wear, and the company has been tooling its processor IP for the OS.

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