Imagination Technologies ups its cadence and product breadth

Ranging from semi-custom to mass market

Jon Peddie


In a world of expanding differentiation as vendors struggle to get and maintain a loyal customer base, the last thing they need are run-of-mill commodity parts—especially in critical user interface points of contact like the screen and the GPU that fills it.

Imagination Technologies knows that better than anyone having served the wide (and sometimes wild) ranging requirements and needs of a diverse set of customers for over 25 years. That’s the good news. But what do you do with all that experience? If you learn from it and use it, then that’s the great news. If you ignore it, take your customers for granted and force them to take your one-size-fits-all solution, you’re begging a competitor to take your customers away—have no doubt—they will.

The long-standing successful companies like AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm know that and act (and sometimes react) accordingly. But all those companies and IMG do something else—they lead. They take their hard-won experience and customer interaction and use it with leadership products—that’s how they’ve earned their longevity.

A few years ago, Imagination split their products offering into three tiers: the XT, XM, and XE.

Imagination’s product line circa 2018. (Source: Imagination Technologies)


The company had been criticized for concentrating on the high-end, high-margin segment and ignoring the midrange and high-volume low-end segments. They corrected that error just in time and compensated for the loss of two very large OEM customers. Another hard-won lesson: don’t have too big a customer.

The company revamped its basic architecture and some of its corporate philosophies and developed a new, but similar-looking product lineup launching in December 2019 consisting of the AXT, AXM, and AXE line of GPUs… with BXT, etc., versions to follow in 2020.

Imagination’s 2020 product line. (Source: Imagination Technologies)


The company also re-organized itself a bit and fine-tuned some of its internal processes, and to reflect the change, Imagination added a sequencing designation to their GPU product line such that 2019 has become GPU-A, while 2020 is GPU-B, and so on.

We were given a sneak peek at the company’s new roadmap which they will disclose with more details in December.

Imagination’s roadmap. (Source: Imagination Technologies)


Imagination’s AXT and AXM GPU core will offer the highest performance density GPUs ever with 30% higher performance density versus competitors’ IP, and up to 6 TeraOPS integrated neural network performance. The IMG AXE Cores have the best 1 & 2 pixel per clock GPUs for UI with full API support with up to 40% higher performance than competing solutions, and a futureproof IP—supporting future operating systems, games and applications.

Next year, the IMG BXE cores will provide a fill-rate focused multicore IMG B-Series BXE-4-32 MC4 with a small B-Series XE scaling block, multicore scaling architecture—up to 16 PPC (primary core contains PowerVR Firmware Processor + Fill + ALU and secondary core(s) contain Fill + ALU units) with up to 50% higher fill-rate density versus competing solutions.

These new GPUs, however, will continue to offer tiled rendering—pixel processing executes fully on-chip with deferred rendering. And IMG’s unique virtualization hardware feature for multiple OS/RTOS to securely share GPU resources.

Imagination thinks they can sustain a steady and consistent 9–12-month cadence of new GPU introductions, regardless of fab node cycles.