BRISTOL, UK — Imagination Technologies is looking to develop technology that would combine its latest multicore MIPS processors with large arrays of its PowerVR graphics processors (GPUs).
This would allow its IP customers to create chips that would compete directly with Nvidia’s Kepler and Maxwell chips for higher-performance computing.
Alongside its i6400 Warrior core, Imagination is developing the coherent interconnect technology to link hundreds of MIPS and PowerVR cores and is happy to support customers with such developments, said Jim Whittaker, executive vice president of the MIPS division, speaking at the recent Multicore Challenge conference in Bristol, UK.
The key difference is that Imagination is an IP supplier rather than a chip company, so it will support any chip customers that want to create a cluster chip. “Nvidia is a very different company, and we are not going to spend all our time on the high end, but if a customer wants to go there we are certainly able to help them,” he said.
“As we go to multicore we have the option to increase the number of threads, the number of cores in a cluster up to six, and we can have multiple clusters so it gives you lots of dimensions to scale up the compute resources, and we are working on a fabric that can bring all this together. The interesting thing is you can connect together all these resources for extremely powerful compute clusters, and what we will be supporting is fully coherent operation between CPUs and GPUs. So multicore is not just about putting down multiple cores but multiple threads and not just in CPUs.”
As Nvidia found, the development environment around such a chip is vitally important, and Imagination is looking to the OpenCL programming environment for this. “OpenCL on GPU cores does provide a very well defined and standardized programming model for massively parallel systems,” said Whittaker.
Nvidia's Kepler K1 chip contains 192 graphics cores alongside four ARM Cortex-A15 processor cores while the successor, codenamed Erista, will use the newer Maxwell GPU architecture to provide twice the performance and is scheduled for release in 2015.