What is GPU Virtualization?

Conceptually, virtualization is the capability of a device to host one or more virtual machines (VMs) that each behaves like actual independent machines with their own operating system (OS), all running on the same underlying device hardware. In regard to GPUs, this means the capability to support multiple concurrently running operating systems, each capable of submitting graphics workloads to the single graphics hardware entity. GPU virtualization is now a must-have for a range of next-generation applications, from automotive, to consumer electronics, to the IoT. GPUs that implement hardware virtualization can provide isolation between the various applications/OSs for increased security, as well as maximum utilisation of the underlying GPU hardware.

In this paper, we discuss the fundamentals of virtualization and then describe the specifics of PowerVR’s GPU hardware virtualization solution, highlighting its unique features and their relevance for the automotive market. We also provide demonstrations of this powerful technology.