The wheels keep turning from Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona with Allwinner's announcement of the UltraOcta A80 SoC. Dubbed the "world's first big.LITTLE octa-core (8-core) heterogeneous SoC to included PowerVR Series6 GPU technology", the UltraOcta A80 combines four Cortex-A7 and four Cortex-A15 cores in a single chip design.
The UltraOcta A80 is aimed at tablets, portable game consoles, set-top boxes, media players and other devices that require "premium performance" level parts. The first devices will apparently hit "soon" but no other details were offered.
ARM is definitely on-board with Allwinner for this product as it is the poster child example of how the big.LITTLE design philosophy can be implemented to offer both high performance and low power results in one SoC. This chip is built on 28nm process technology and also includes high performance graphics with the PowerVR G6230 GPU. This GPU includes two "clusters" for a total of 64 ALUs (called cores in other SoC). Keep in mind that this Series6 GPU is about half the performance of the G6400 series included in the iPhone 5s and even Intel's new Merrifield and Moorefield processors.
The Allwinner UltraOcta A80 will also support 4K video encode and decode with H.265 thrown in for good measure. I am very curious to see the load on the SoC during these types of high quality video processes as the amount of acceleration on the chip isn't known yet.
Allwinner UltraOcta A80 processor revolutionizes mobile market with advanced big-LITTLE technology and PowerVR 6230 64-core GPU
Mobile World Congress – Barcelona, Spain, February, 25th, 2014 – Allwinner Technology, a worldwide leader in mobile application processor design, today unveiled its next-generation UltraOcta A80 processor, the world's first ARM® big.LITTLE™ octa-core heterogeneous SoC design to include a PowerVR Series6 GPU.
Packed with four ARM Cortex®-A7 and four Cortex-A15 CPU cores, Allwinner’s UltraOcta processor is slated to bring premium performance devices to consumers at lower price points, opening new market spaces and driving value innovation opportunities across tablets, OTT media players, notebook PCs, all-in-ones, and even smart TVs.
Mike Zhang, CEO, Allwinner Technology, said: "For the past year, our worldwide customer base has grown significantly, enabling us to deliver high quality products at extremely affordable prices. OEMs from all tiers – top, middle, and low – recognize our leading market position and continue to choose our processors to deliver outstanding value to their customers.”
“Fundamentally, the UltraOcta A80 and its platforms give OEMs the highest performance, most power-efficient and cost-effective solution for a range of devices, including tablets, portable game consoles, STBs, media players and many others. We’re excited to see the first UltraOcta devices hit the market soon.”
“We are pleased to see Allwinner delivering a leading solution for 2014 mobile devices that demand premium performance and energy efficiency enabled by an ARM big.LITTLE system pairing the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 processors,” said Nandan Nayampally, vice president of marketing, CPU group, ARM. “We look forward to seeing real devices based on the UltraOcta A80 processor coming to market in the next few months to provide users with an outstanding user experience enabled by big.LITTLE technology.”
- Ultra low power, high performance 28nm UltraOcta SoC with heterogeneous eight-core CPU computing
- Ultra performance graphics – PowerVR™ G6230 GPU with two shader clusters and 64 ALU cores
- Ultra power-adaptive CoolFlex™ power management system
- Next generation video engine – 4K encode/decode, H.265
- Triple-screen display support – advanced triple-screen display engine
Proven low power credentials – CoolFlex™
Keeping power consumption to a minimum has been a key focus for Allwinner's new UltraOcta A80. With CoolFlex™, UltraOcta enables max performance for applications while keeping overall power consumption low. CoolFlex™ uses optimized big.LITTLE technology to dynamically activate energy-efficient or high performance processor cores based on computing workload. The end result for devices is higher average battery life and faster performance when applications need it.
The PowerVR G6230 Rogue GPU from Imagination Technologies sits at the heart of the SoC. The G6230 graphics core incorporates PVR3C, a series of power saving technologies designed to keep devices running smoothly while delivering peak performance:
- PVRTC and PVRTC2 are currently the most used and lowest power texture compression formats in the market.
- PVRIC (lossless image compression) delivers dramatically improved throughput, reduced bandwidth, conserved power and improved system performance.
- PVRGC (lossless geometry compression) reduces overall bandwidth usage and related system costs as the geometry complexity, especially in today’s gaming environments, continues to increase.
Leading edge graphics and GPU compute performance
Advanced 3D gaming, high-resolution graphical UIs, and web browsing at lightning-fast speeds are a breeze on UltraOcta A80 platforms, thanks to its dual-cluster PowerVR G6230 GPU. The dual-cluster Rogue is a sophisticated GPU design focused on delivering the most efficient graphics and compute engine and offers a series of key advantages over competing solutions, including:
- 64 FP32 ALU cores
The PowerVR Series6 Rogue cores include Unified Scalable Clusters (or USCs); each cluster contains 16 pipelines and each pipeline has 2 FP32 ALUs. The PowerVR G6230 GPU is a dual-cluster design that has a total of 64 FP32 ALU cores, offering superior processing power and improved precision for better image quality in console-quality games. Additionally, the PowerVR G6230 GPU includes a number of FP16 cores which provide additional low-power performance for a range of graphics applications, including fast blending for HDR rendering in games and UIs.
- Scalar processing
Scalar processing achieves the highest utilization of ALUs and eases graphics programming. Whereas vector arithmetic units occupy more silicon than a scalar unit and might not be fully used if code is not operating on vectors, scalar ALUs handle algorithms written with scalar ops (R), vec2 ops (RG), vec3 (RGB) or a full vec4 (RGBA) with the same efficiency.
In addition, scalar instructions decrease the complexity of the instruction set, requiring less chip area for the instruction decoder.
- Unified architecture
The superior efficiency of Rogue GPUs is derived from its advanced tiling-based deferred architecture combined with a unified shader approach to the programmable elements of the GPU. The combination of these two characteristics provides phenomenal latency tolerance; along with automatic load balancing, this allows the PowerVR G6230 GPU to process geometry, fragment and compute tasks with equal ease.
- Leading API support
Application developers can take advantage of the significant parallel processing power in PowerVR G6230 GPU for both graphics and GPU compute tasks. Thanks to the powerful Rogue architecture on which PowerVR G6230 is based on, the Allwinner A80 processor is able to support all major mobile and desktop APIs, including OpenGL ES Next/3.0/2.0, OpenGL 3.x, DirectX 9_3/10, OpenCL and Renderscript.
Sir Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination Technologies, said, "Our long-standing strategic relationship with Allwinner has resulted in a series of amazing products that offer high performance and low power consumption for highly affordable devices. The graphics and compute capabilities of the newly-announced Allwinner UltraOcta A80 processor are truly impressive.
“With the UltraOcta processor, Allwinner are leveraging the full benefits of the Rogue GPU architecture to provide the best combination of features. The choice of a fully-featured PowerVR G6230 GPU enables them to deliver one of the best platforms for Android and other operating systems."
Allwinner Technology is a leading fabless design company dedicated to smart application processor SoCs and smart analog ICs. Its product line includes multi-core application processors for smart devices and smart power management ICs used by brands worldwide.
With its focus on cutting edge UHD video processing, high performance multi-core CPU/GPU integration, and ultra-low power consumption, Allwinner Technology is a mainstream solution provider for the global tablet, internet TV, smart home device, automotive in-dash device, smart power management, and mobile connected device markets. Allwinner Technology is headquartered in Zhuhai, China. See: www.allwinnertech.com.