GPUs Taking Bigger Share Of SOC

Heterogeneous processing is the future, Tony King-Smith, EVP at Imagination, told the Future Horizons IEF 2013 meeting in Dublin this morning.The vehicle for heterogeneous processing is the SOC – the means by which complexity is commoditised. “SOC is about commoditising something that’s really hard,” said King-Smith.

Within the SOC the architecture has changed. It’s no longer about a CPU controlling peripherals it’s about multiple processors working together, said King-Smith.

“The CPU is now only one of of the processors in the system,” said King-Smith, “it has to operate efficiently with all the other processors which are also high performance engines in their own right as well as being programmable.”

“Understanding how disparate engines work together is fundamental within very tight constraints like bandwidth and power,” added King-Smith.

For instance parallel GPUs have to complement serial CPUs and there are also RPUs (Radio Processing Units) and VPUs (Video Processing Units) to be included in the SOC mix.

Of all these processors, the GPU is becoming the most important.

“The GPU is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the SOC,” said King-Smith, “we expect GPUs to occupy the largest area on many SOCs.”

“GPUs are inherently more scalable than CPUs,” said King-Smith, “GPU processing is increasing at 2x per year for both the high and low end and the envelope of GPU performance between the high end and low end is widening at 2x per year.”

“Power is the ultimate battleground,” said King-Smith, “which will increasingly dominate every major design decision for SOCs.”

He thought that the need for designers is to be creative and to use the whole spectrum of processing options from 130nm to 14/16nm.

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