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Imagination Technologies bids to enter data centre market

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UK-headquartered Imagination Technologies has launched its B Series of GPU cores, which could allow it to break into the market for high-performance data centre silicon.

Imagination has, until now, mainly focused on designing mobile GPUs (Power VR) and semiconductors for radio processing. However, with its latest B Series, it is bidding to enter the data centre market in which GPUs are being adapted for a range of tasks, such as power-efficient real-time image recognition and cloud-based gaming.

The designs will aim to compete with rivals in the sector – such as Nvidia and AMD – by maximising computing performance using a minimal amount of power and a very small piece of silicon. According to Imagination, the high-performance designs consume up to 30 per cent less power and 25 per cent less area than its 2019 A Series.

“If you’ve got a cloud application where your profit is decided by how much you can do for what amount of power, these are a really interesting solution that’s a step ahead of other options on the market today,” Andrew Girdler, an Imagination product manager, told Reuters.

The B Series introduces multi-core options, with much greater flexibility for clients with regards to configuration. The B Series GPU cores can be linked in clusters of up to four and are designed with 7nm and 5nm process nodes (with the potential for 3nm designs under evaluation). Imagination are presenting four option: the flagship BXT; mid-range BXM; basic BXE, and safety-conscious BXS, which will target automotive applications.

While previously a GPU driver assigns work to the GPU to render, the GPU will pull work to process; Imagination has termed this a “decentralised design”. In a group of GPUs, one acts as the “primary”, with a controlling firmware processor to divide workload and assign tasks to the other GPUs.

The flagship quad core BXT 32-1024 MC4 can deliver up to 6TFLOPS of FP32 performance, with an output of 192 Gigapixels per second (the industry’s highest performance per square millimetre of silicon). In comparison, the A Series flagship AXT 64-2048 could reach 2TFLOPS FP32 and render 64 Gigapixels per second.

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