Making the best even better: PowerVR Series9XE and 9XM – the ultimate GPUs for today’s embedded platforms

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on digg
Share on email

Could you live without your smartphone? Almost everybody relies on one these days for so much of what they do – email, messages, social media, banking and more. Some people have even been known to use them to make phone calls! While this may not be unexpected for developed markets, it may come as a surprise to some that this is even truer in emerging markets.

According to this Global Trends Report from Deloitte, while in developed markets some 6% of people check their phones more than 100 times a day, in emerging markets that figure is 14%. And while in the West 30% use smartphones for mPayments, in emerging markets it’s as high as 65%!

This makes sense if you think about it. Due to cost and a lack of a reliable power infrastructure in these emerging markets, traditional PCs and laptops never became entrenched. Therefore, these markets have a mobile-first culture. Here the smartphone is the primary device for providing internet access and if often critical for conducting business and obtaining health advice, as well as entertainment.

A consequence is that there is an increasing demand for low-cost, entry-level devices. Even in this market segment, however, pressure is increasing on device capability. While previously it may have been acceptable for an entry-level device to run adequately, today, there is an expectation for them to run smoothly. This naturally, requires a more capable GPU to deliver this.

smartphone emerging markets
And it’s not just mobile technology. In set-top boxes, digital TVs and automotive, there is also demand for presenting information on screens clearly and smoothly, with GUIs for streaming video and informational display clusters.

surround view
Surround view in car dashboards is one use case for cost-effective GPUs

Moving up the chain to the mid-range, and in addition to the now standard 1080p resolution, the emphasis switches to pixel quality. With smartphones, this means more complex, effects-driven games and also brand-new capabilities, such as running neural networks for photo classification and image recognition. In automotive, there is a need for complex UIs, ranging from an infotainment system to presenting a camera surround-view to the driver for parking. These types of applications are increasingly both compute and fillrate dependant.

Of course, we’ve been addressing these markets for the last few years with our PowerVR Series8XE and our Series8XE Plus GPU designs. Thanks to market-leading characteristics in terms of power, performance and area we have enjoyed success in the market with a number of licensees. Now with the Series9XE and 9XM, we are building on this success to increase capability and even more closely meet customer needs.

What are the PowerVR Series9XE and 9XM?

The Series9XE and 9XM are built on the very successful Rogue architecture featuring our patented tile-based deferred rendering. Our Series8XT family, based on the newer Furian architecture, remains as our high-end offering, catering for markets where overall performance in an embedded device is the highest priority.

The PowerVR Series9XE is focussed on those entry-level markets where silicon area must be kept to a minimum to deliver a low-cost product to end users. To that end, the Series 9XE moves the game on by offering up to 20% more application performance in the same area over the Series8XE.

The Series9XM moves up the ladder with performance density improvements of up to 50% over the previous generation Series8XEP, thanks to several new and enhanced architectural elements. It also supports PVRIC3 – a lossless image compression to deliver a typical reduction of 50% for render target bandwidth. This feature is critical for cost savings as adding extra pins to deliver more bandwidth adds cost.

Naturally, both support all the latest APIs, such as OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan 1.0, OpenCL 1.2 EP, and Renderscript. There’s comprehensive OS support too, for Android, Linux, Tizen, WebOS, QNX, Integrity and Chrome OS. As with all our GPU designs, we offer hardware virtualization, for secure running of applications with multiple OSs, especially important for the automotive market. Additionally, while in the 8XE/8XEP series 10-bit YUV was an option, we now support it by default throughout the graphics pipeline, delivering greater colour richness.

Fine-grained scalability

As you can see below, what defines a Series9XE and a 9XM is the amount of compute capability. The PowerVR Series9XE is available for licensing, with five example configurations below:

9XE CoresUSCsPix/clk

While the Series 9XM is available in for licensing, with example configuration below:

9XM CoresUSCsPix/clk

We are able to offer a range of cores optimised either for fillrate, for compute, or balanced between both. This is made possible by our highly scalable design.  Each GPU can contain one or two clusters with a range of possible texture engines (one to four texels/pixels per clock) and a range of Unified Shading Cluster (USC) engines to select from (32 to 128 FP16 operations/clock) for each cluster and this equates to a wide range of possible GPU IP cores with different balance points between compute and fillrate resources.

This approach differs from the clumsy multi-core solution offered by competitors, which results in redundant silicon being put down to increase performance as the texture/ALU/geometry throughput ratio is fixed inside each core. Thanks to our scalable architecture, doubling the performance doesn’t cost twice the area. We call this fine-grained scalability.

9XE 9XM scalability
The Series9XE and 9XM offer a scalable architecture that enables us to deliver cores that meet our customer needs.

Theoretically, if a customer asks for “as much benchmark performance as they can get in 5mm2,” or they tell us that they “want to achieve 30fps for a GUI in as small an area as possible”, we can deliver a GPU that will meet their needs.


With the Series9XE and 9XM then, the best options for entry-level and mid-tier graphics solutions for a wide range of embedded markets just got better. Whether it’s an entry-level smartphone, a GUI for an in-car infotainment system or a device that can offer basic image classification, devices based on the 9XE and 9XM will enable our customers to deliver the SoCs that drive these products to market more cost-effectively than ever before. This will help them to stay ahead of their competition while giving today’s consumers the improved visual experiences they expect and demand.

Follow Imagination Technologies on social media on Twitter @ImaginationTech and on LinkedInFacebook and Google+.

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even

With a background in technology journalism stretching back to the late 90s, Benny Har-Even has written for many of the top UK technology publications, across both consumer and B2B and has appeared as an expert on BBC World Business News and BBC Radio Five Live. He is now Content Manager at Imagination Technologies.

Please leave a comment below

Comment policy: We love comments and appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas and give feedback. However, all comments are manually moderated and those deemed to be spam or solely promotional will be deleted. We respect your privacy and will not publish your personal details.

Blog Contact

If you have any enquiries regarding any of our blog posts, please contact:

United Kingdom

[email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)1923 260 511

Search by Tag

Search by Author

Related blog articles

Apple M1 image

Why you should be running your iOS apps on your new Apple M1 laptop

Towards the end of last year, Apple released the latest version of its Apple MacBook Pro and Macbook Air laptops. This release was notable as with these brand-new laptops Apple made a significant change – the processor inside was based on its own M1 chip rather than the Intel architecture that it had been using since 2006. Since its release, the Apple M1 has been widely hailed for its performance, outstripping Intel in all the major benchmarks and all in a cool, quiet package with low power consumption.

Read More »
bseries imgic technology

Back in the high-performance game

My first encounter with the PowerVR GPU was helping the then VideoLogic launch boards for Matrox in Europe. Not long after I joined the company, working on the rebrand to Imagination Technologies and promoting both our own VideoLogic-branded boards and those of our partners using ST’s Kyro processors. There were tens of board partners but only for one brief moment did we have two partners in the desktop space: NEC and ST.

Read More »
b series hero banner 2

IMG B-Series – a multi-core revolution for a new world

B-Series uses multi-core to deliver an incredible 33 core variations for the widest range of options at all levels of performance points. From the smallest IoT cores up to the mid-range desktop equivalent B-Series an outperform mid-range next-gen consoles. Learn more in this blog post.

Read More »


Sign up to receive the latest news and product updates from Imagination straight to your inbox.