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PowerVR Halves GPU-Memory Needs

November 6, 2018

Author: Bob Wheeler

Few new technologies come with a performance guarantee. By design, Imagination guarantees the memory-bandwidth savings of its new PVRIC4 compression. PVRIC is its frame-buffer image-compression technology for PowerVR GPUs. PVRIC3, however, uses only lossless compression, so it doesn’t allow customers to reduce memory size or bandwidth. PVRIC4 adds lossy compression to enable bandwidth savings of at least 50%, which designers can use in their memory subsystem.

Everyone’s familiar with the lossy compression that video streams employ, but PVRIC4 provides access to individual blocks. Another difference from existing solutions is that Imagination targeted a modest compression ratio to minimize the loss of visual quality. It goes so far as to claim its scheme is “visually lossless,” but there’s no standard to measure against. Perhaps more importantly, PVRIC4 uses lossless compression unless it fails to deliver at least a 50% reduction; only in this case does it instead use lossy compression.

The company says its next-generation Furian and Rogue GPUs will integrate PVRIC4 as an option. Standalone PVRIC4 encoders and decoders are available now as soft intellectual property for integration with other SoC functions, such as display controllers, image processors (ISPs), and video engines (codecs). For example, Imagination has already integrated PVRIC4 with Chips&Media’s Wave5 video engine. PVRIC4 appears to deliver a unique combination of high visual fidelity and guaranteed memory-bandwidth savings.

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