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Imagination GPUs Shift to Automotive

February 13, 2018

Author: Mike Demler

The new PowerVR GT8540 doubles the performance of the GT8525, the first GPU in the Furian Series8XT line. The 4-cluster GT8540 is at the low end of Furian’s range, which theoretically allows up to 64 clusters, but it’s suitable for game consoles and “super-mid” smartphones. Its performance and power efficiency are an upgrade from the predecessor Series7XT, such as the quad-core model in MediaTek’s flagship Helio X30 processor. Furian also improves PowerVR’s unique hardware virtualization features, which target automotive and other safety-critical systems.

Series8XT GPUs implement Imagination’s third-generation virtualization architecture, so they can simultaneously handle workloads for up to eight virtual machines (VMs) managed by a host CPU’s hypervisor. The ability to process multiple workloads on a single GPU saves cost, but virtualization also increases security by isolating the various applications and OSs.

In an automobile, for example, the advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) and digital dashboard are critical functions that must operate in secure domains. The infotainment system also requires isolation to ensure digital-rights management (DRM) of copyrighted media. Vehicle owners can install third-party apps for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but those apps run in a separate open domain that keeps malware away from the critical ADAS, drivetrain, and telematics functions.

No other licensable GPU supports virtualization, giving Furian an advantage for multiscreen systems and security-sensitive tasks. Protecting critical systems from malware is a must-have for increasingly digital vehicles. The PowerVR GT8540’s ability to simultaneously drive up to eight applications or OSs will appeal to automotive OEMs, which can minimize cost and power by running multiple graphics workloads on a single processor.

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