Imagination Technologies unveils Series 6 PowerVR GPUs -- promises desktop caliber graphics in mobile devices (update)

Imagination Technologies may not be a household name, but they created the PowerVR GPUs that are the gold standard in mobile graphics, and are a part of the ARM SoCs you find in mobile devices like the iPhone 4, Galaxy S, and the Droid 2. Not one to rest on its laurels, the company unveiled its new Series 6 PowerVR chips -- affectionately known as "Rogue" -- that are 20 to 100 times more powerful than its previous handheld offerings. That's right, these GPUs will have the same horsepower as today's desktop computers while needing only a milliwatt of juice to deliver face-melting graphics -- the catch is that this bit of black magic won't be showing up in devices for a few years. Guess we'll just have to settle for the Series 5 chips -- like the quad core beast found in the Sony NGP and the upcoming OMAP 5 platform -- which the company promises will make their way into select smartphones "within three months." Be still, our gaming hearts.

Update: Three months? Hardly, ST-Ericsson has announced a series of new SoC processors, including the Nova 9600 that has "Rogue" baked in. The chip delivers HD video at 120 frames per second and can pull off pro-quality 3D video recording as well. Press release is after the break.

[Thanks, Rich]

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February 15, 2011

Complete solutions bring unprecedented computing and graphics performance to smartphones and tablets, at lowest power consumption

Barcelona, February 15, 2011 – ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, is raising the bar for smartphone and tablet platform performance with its new Nova™ application processors, its new Thor™ advanced modems and its range of NovaThor™ complete integrated platform solutions.

"By offering the most advanced application processors combined with our latest generation of thin HSPA+ and LTE modems, ST-Ericsson is setting new performance standards for our industry." said Gilles Delfassy, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson. "Our approach will accelerate innovation in the smartphone and tablet markets enabling consumers to experience human-machine interfaces based on gesture, voice and image recognition, 3D cameras and life-like augmented reality."

ST-Ericsson's NovaThor platforms, based on a scalable architecture, combine application engines, modems and connectivity chipsets into fully-integrated and tested solutions, which device manufacturers can use to quickly roll out a new wave of advanced smartphones and tablets with trailblazing multimedia capabilities across all segments.

At the high end, the NovaThor platforms offer device makers the opportunity to bring leading-edge smartphones to market swiftly by combining ST-Ericsson's very latest modems and application processors. In the mainstream smartphone segment, manufacturers can benefit by using ST-Ericsson's highly-integrated platforms, in which modems and application processors are built into a single piece of silicon, to produce compact and affordable devices. The scalable architecture enables reuse of manufacturers' R&D investment across the entire range of their smartphone and tablet portfolios.

ST-Ericsson today announced three new application processors, the Nova A9600, A9540, A9500 together with two next generation modems the Thor M7400 and M7300 as well as two additions to its complete highly integrated smartphone platforms the NovaThor T5008 and U4500.

ST-Ericsson's new Nova A9600 brings over 200 percent more mobile computing performance compared to the U8500 platform. It features the industry's best and most efficient low-power implementation known today of a dual ARM® Cortex- A15 MPCore™ with each core running up to 2.5GHz thanks to very innovative power saving techniques to be disclosed later this year.

"As the selection of advanced smartphones and tablets increases we see the need for a wider range of performance points to be addressed," said Mike Inglis, EVP and general manager of the ARM Processor Division, "This announcement shows the performance that can be achieved by combining the Cortex-A15 processor with integrated LTE modems."
The Nova A9600 will be the first platform announced to incorporate Imagination Technologies next generation of graphics processors, codenamed Rogue, which will set a new performance bar for GPUs at mobile power consumption levels. The Nova A9600 will bring more than a 20-fold improvement in graphics performance compared with the U8500 platform.

"POWERVR Series6, codenamed 'Rogue', moves the goalposts in terms of graphics performance and efficiency at low power consumption for next generation mobile." said Hossein Yassaie, CEO of Imagination Technologies. "We are delighted to be working with ST-Ericsson on such a groundbreaking product."

The Nova A9600 will also be able to play full HD video at 120 frames per second, supporting professional camcorder-quality recording in 3D, as well as high definition videoconferencing and tele-presence.

ST-Ericsson also unveiled the Nova A9540, a dual-core ARM Cortex- A9-based processor, with each core operating at up to1.8 GHz, and the Nova A9500, a dual-core ARM Cortex- A9-based processor, running at 1.2 GHz. The Nova A9540 delivers a four times improvement in graphics performance compared with the current generation, while the A9500 delivers state-of-the-art graphic capabilities on mobile devices.

ST-Ericsson's new Thor modems, the Thor M7400 and the Thor M7300, support the latest LTE and HSPA+ dual carrier technologies, while preserving backward compatibility with existing 3G/2G networks, in a small and highly-integrated radio solution that supports up to eight LTE/WCDMA/GSM frequency bands. These modems enable the development of truly global smartphones, tablets and many other mobile broadband-enabled devices.

The Thor modems and Nova application processors will be offered as combined NovaThor solutions which match the most advanced application processors with the latest modem technologies. Finally ST-Ericsson introduced the NovaThor T5008 and U4500 platforms which combine application processor and modem in a single die delivering all the benefits of integration, including size, power and bill-of-material advantages.

Notes to Editors

The Nova A9600, built in 28nm, will deliver groundbreaking multimedia and graphics performance, featuring a dual-core ARM Cortex- A15-based processor running up to up to 2.5 GHz breaking the 20k DMIPS barrier, and a POWERVR Rogue GPU that delivers in excess of 210 GFLOPS. The graphics performance of the A9600 will exceed 350 million 'real' polygons per second and more than 5 gigapixels per second visible fill rate (which given POWERVR's deferred rendering architecture results in more than 13 gigapixels per second effective fill rate). Thanks to Rogue Nova will support all existing APIs such as OpenGL, OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1, OpenVG and OpenCL as well as the next generation of OpenGL ES, codenamed 'Halti' and Microsoft DirectX. The Nova A9600 is sampling in 2011.

The Nova A9540, built in 32nm, uses a dual-core Cortex-A9 running at up to 1.8 GHz and delivers graphics performance up to four times that of the U8500 and is sampling H2 2011.

The Nova A9500, built in 45 nm, uses a dual-core Cortex-A9 running at clock speeds of up to 1.2GHz, with Mali™ 400 improving graphics performance up to 20 percent, supporting full HD camcorder capabilities and up to 20 megapixel cameras. It is sampling and in design with ST-Ericsson customers today.

The Thor M7400 can connect to 2G, 3G, TD-SCDMA, HSPA, HSPA+ dual carrier and LTE FDD/TDD networks. It offers peak download speeds of up to 100Mbps in LTE networks. The Thor M7400 supports voice calls via fallback to circuit-switched networks and via the VoLTE (Voice over LTE) standard, it is sampling Q2 2011.

The Thor M7300 is a multimode HSPA+ modem supporting speeds of up to 84Mbps and is sampling Q2 2011.

The NovaThor U9500 is a complete platform combining Thor M5730 with A9500 and is sampling now.

The NovaThor T5008 platform combines a TD-HSPA+ modem with dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali 400 graphics. It supports full HD camcorder capabilities and up to 20 megapixel cameras and is sampling Q2 2011.

The NovaThor U4500 platform combines a powerful Cortex-A9 application processor with a HSPA+ modem. It supports DVD-quality camcorder capabilities and 8 megapixel cameras and samples in 1H 2011.

About ST-Ericsson
ST-Ericsson is a world leader in developing and delivering a complete portfolio of innovative mobile platforms and cutting-edge wireless semiconductor solutions across the broad spectrum of mobile technologies. The company is a leading supplier to the top handset manufacturers and ST-Ericsson's products and technologies enable more than half of all phones in use today. The company generated sales of about USD 2.3 billion in 2010. ST-Ericsson was established as a 50/50 joint venture by STMicroelectronics and Ericsson in February 2009, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Nova, Thor and NovaThor are trademarked by ST-Ericsson.