LPGPU2 article in EU Research


Higher performance for low-power system-on-chips

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are an important part of many modern technologies, including smartphones and automotive systems. We spoke to Dr Georgios Keramidas about the work of the LPGPU2 project in developing a tool to help developers optimise the software for GPUs, opening up a path towards improved power efficiency.

A type of electronic circuit, low-power graphic processing units (GPUs) are essential to the performance of many modern technologies, including smartphones, wearable technology and certain automotive systems. With GPUs used ever-more widely across a range of different applications, demand is growing for improved performance and power efficiency, an issue central to the work of the recently-concluded LPGPU2 project. “The target of the project was to build a development environment to optimize code, the software for embedded GPUs,” says Dr. Georgios Keramidas, the project’s technical coordinator. This work holds clear relevance to the commercial sector, so the project consortium included both academic and industrial partners. “The industrial partners provided some commercial software use cases they wanted to build, which were developed as part of the project,” continues Dr. Keramidas. “The project delivered an opensource tool suite, that can be downloaded and used to optimize the software in GPUs. The target was embedded GPUs.”

This research was driven to a large extent by the needs of the commercial sector, with companies looking to improve the performance of low-power devices like smartphones or certain processing devices used in cars for example, and to ensure they can meet evolving market needs without consuming more power. While modern smartphones can of course perform a wide variety of tasks, the market never stands still, and more complex applications continue to emerge; one area of interest in the sector is augmented reality applications, which Dr. Keramidas says raises new challenges. “If you are going to run augmented reality applications on your smartphone, then you have two main problems. The first is that it’s going to be very slow. The second problem – the more important one – is that if you try to run virtual reality or augmented reality applications on your smartphone, then the battery will drain in a couple of hours,” he outlines.

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