Vivante Corporation is probably one of the best known secrets in Silicon Valley. The company creates graphics processors which end up integrated in numerous SoC’s (System-on-a-Chip), yet its public perception lags behind other, well established players.

Part of the problem is the engineering heavy background and lack of mature marketing approach but one cannot negate their strengths – the GC2000 GPU IP was the first mobile GPU to successfully pass the OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.1 certifications, while the performance is nothing to be sneezed at.

The Freescale i.MX6 chip used Vivante’s GC2000/4000 OpenCL capability to land the BMW design win, pushing Nvidia Tegra out within a single product design cycle (Nvidia managed to oust Intel). Furthermore, Chinese silicon vendor HiSilicon (semiconductor arm of well-known Huawei) chose Vivante to be their graphics processor of choice as well.
The decision for both Freescale and HiSilicon is yielding good results – more design wins for Freescale, and an impressive score in Rightware’s Basemark GUI for Vivante-based tablets. Top 3 fastest tablets in the world are now powered by the 16-core GC4000 and 8-core GC2000, beating the latest GPUs from ARM (Mali-T604) and Nvidia (GeForce ULP).

Rightware PowerBoard for Basemark GUI Free: Vivante GPUs sit on top of the table
Rightware PowerBoard for Basemark GUI Free: Vivante GPUs sit on top of the table

Furthermore, it is impressive just how fast the chips are in off-screen mode, and the performance growth Basemark GUI Free experienced over the course of past 12 months. According to Rightware’s acclaimed benchmark, HiSilicon/Huawei and their K3V2 SoC rule the tablet roost.

That is even more impressive if you know that the K3V2 is actually HiSilicon’s first chip to reach serious manufacturing volume, being based on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with 16-core Vivante GS4000 GPU. What is surprising is that even the 8-core Vivante GS2000 managed to beat multi-core Mali-T604, which powers Google’s Nexus 10 tablet.

Maybe Vivante’s surprising performance could be one of the reasons why Google is preparing a serious performance upgrade for the second generation of its popular 10.1" tablet?