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Imagination Technologies prepping GPUs for 28nm

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPUs? 20nm? 3D stacking technologies? FinFETs? SoCs?

Details of process technologies at 28nm and beyond are being integrated into Imagination Technologies' graphics core designs. The effort aims to help SoC designers better optimise the graphics blocks around power consumption, performance and area.

Although the company did not provide details of its plans, details might emerge at a TSMC event. The event focuses on the Taiwan foundry's move into 20nm and 3D stacking technologies.

Imagination is working with EDA tool and library developers as well as foundries to help optimise the physical layout of its GPUs. However, the company currently has no plans to sell hardened macros.

New capabilities will span a broad range of chip design areas including standard cell libraries, voltage scaling in process nodes and clock-tree optimisation, Tony King-Smith, vice president of marketing at Imagination, said here the day before the opening of the TSMC event. "People are asking us to do more process tuning," said King-Smith. "We will not deviate from our IP being fully synthesisable, however we will complement it more and more with tuned libraries and tool flows."

"We are making the design more aware of the process with hints in the design database itselfmost library vendors with an open mind will be talking with us," King-Smith added.

Hard macros are rarely used because "no one has the same [chip] floor plan, so it's better to tune up the flows and libraries so people can harden the designs themselves more effectively," he added.

The extent of improvements in reduced power consumption, area or increased performance will vary greatly among design teams, depending on the time they put into the optimisations, he said, declining to provide any hard figures.

Foundries as well as SoC designers are driving the demand for more optimisation, he said. Most of the effort is now going on at the 28nm node, but programs have started at 20nm and 14/16nm nodes using FinFETs, he added.

"The foundries are coming to us when characterizing 28nm or 20nm nodes looking for reference designs for what will push their processes," said King-Smith. "Historically, it has been memory and processors [in that role but] now GPUs are consuming the most area and power on the chip," he said.

Imagination's Series 6 graphics cores will be the first to benefit from the optimisations, King-Smith said. Imagination and multiple of its SoC customers now have sample designs using Series 6 cores running in the lab, he added.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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