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Imagination Technologies reveals future iPhone GPU candidate

post #1 of 43
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Imagination Technologies, the graphics chip maker of which Apple is a part owner, announced Friday its new PowerVR SGX545 mobile GPU, which could appear in future handheld devices from Apple.

The new mobile GPU adds full support for OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0. The real-world performance is said to deliver 40 million polygons per second at 200MHz. It is capable of producing content on a screen with a high-definition resolution, and giving a high framerate for rendered 3D content.

"Combining our many years of experience in the embedded, mobile and PC-based DirectX graphics worlds, PowerVR SGX 545 takes the possibilities of hand-held graphics to a new level by delivering a full DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.x feature set as well as delivering GPU powered OpenCL heterogeneous parallel processing capabilities for the mobile and embedded markets," said Tony King-Smith, VP of marketing with Imagination.

"This makes PowerVR SGX545 a compelling solution for application processor SoC designers targeting the next generation of netbook and MID mobile products demanding exceptional graphics capabilities."

The full list of features in the new PowerVR SGX545, according to Imagination, include:

DirectX10.1 API support
Enhanced support for DirectX10 Geometry Shaders
DirectX10 Data assembler support (Vertex, primitive and instance ID generation)
Render target resource array support
Full arbitrary non power of two texture support
Full filtering support for F16 texture types
Support for all DirectX10 mandated texture formats
Sampling from unresolved MSAA surfaces
Support for Gamma on output pixels
Order dependent coverage based AA (anti-aliased lines)
Enhanced line rasterisation
The new GPU's support for full profile OpenCL 1.0 also adds a number of advanced features, including:

Support of round-to-nearest for floating-point math
Full 32-bit integer support (includes add, multiply and divide)
64-bit integer emulation
3D texture support
Support for the maximum 2D and 3D image sizes specified in the full profile.
Released last June, the iPhone 3GS includes a PowerVR SGX GPU core believed to be the SGX535 model. It gave the handset OpenGL ES 2.0 support, allowing more advanced 3D rendering. The SGX536 can producde 28 million polygons per second.

In 2008, AppleInsider reported that Apple purchased a 3 percent stake in Imagination Technologies Group, maker of the PowerVR mobile graphics hardware. Last June, the Mac maker bumped its stake to 9.5 percent. Apple is also a licensee of the company's technology.
post #2 of 43
If the rumored Apple tablet device runs on some form of the iPhone OS, is this new chip a candidate to power the alleged tablet?
post #3 of 43
That's exciting.
post #4 of 43
How about a tiny amount of restraint on the headlines instead of fabricating stories out of whole cloth. Try "possible successor" instead of "successor" until you have proof.

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post #5 of 43
I am going to assume these chips are going to be included in the soon to be released apple mobile tablet device.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How about a tiny amount of restraint on the headlines instead of fabricating stories out of whole cloth. Try "possible successor" instead of "successor" until you have proof.

Yeah, quite a few of the recent headlines have been far too definitive for just a new product announcement. Lets not lose our head here now.
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post #7 of 43
40M polygons. The 3GS has more than the DS, but still lower than the PSP, which I think has 33M polygons. If Apple has focused on gaming APIs for v4.0 SDK then Apple could be a true competitor. They need to have a way for developers to write on-screen game controls that can easily be switched to a physically attached D-pad when one is plugged in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How about a tiny amount of restraint on the headlines instead of fabricating stories out of whole cloth. Try "possible successor" instead of "successor" until you have proof.

Id even go with likely successor.
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post #8 of 43
Well, let's see: Apple has invested a stake in Imagination, has used their mobile graphic chips in the iPhone to date, including the last update. Is it really that much of a stretch to assume that they'll make use of this one next time they decide to update the iPhone's graphics hardware?

I realize nothing is 100% for sure, but I think 99% is good enough for a tech site headline.
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post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

If the rumored Apple tablet device runs on some form of the iPhone OS, is this new chip a candidate to power the alleged tablet?

Possibly, the generation II of the thing. The core of GPU is actually finished and is ready for licensing. The only real chip is just showing up for testing.

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post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How about a tiny amount of restraint on the headlines instead of fabricating stories out of whole cloth. Try "possible successor" instead of "successor" until you have proof.

How about probable successor? This GPU has been announced early enough that there is plenty of time for it to be in the next iPhone.
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

How about probable successor? This GPU has been announced early enough that there is plenty of time for it to be in the next iPhone.

And even if it isn't, are there any other plausible candidates for the iteration after that? The headline doesn't say "in the next iPhone", it just says that this chip is the successor to the chip that is in the iPhone now, which, strictly speaking, simply identifies the chip.
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post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

How about probable successor? This GPU has been announced early enough that there is plenty of time for it to be in the next iPhone.

Well, it was announced now, doesn't mean Apple didn't have notice of long ago... they do own almost 10% of the company.

I'm sure this will end up in Apple's ARM-based SoC, which should appear in both the Iphone and the tablet (if it even exists).
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post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Well, it was announced now, doesn't mean Apple didn't have notice of long ago... they do own almost 10% of the company.

I'm sure this will end up in Apple's ARM-based SoC, which should appear in both the Iphone and the tablet (if it even exists).

I thought Apple owned only 3% of the company. Are they also represented on the board of directors? If not, they may not be privy to planned product releases.

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post #14 of 43
"Candidate" is much better. I love it when you guys listen.

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post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Well, let's see: Apple has invested a stake in Imagination, has used their mobile graphic chips in the iPhone to date, including the last update. Is it really that much of a stretch to assume that they'll make use of this one next time they decide to update the iPhone's graphics hardware?

I realize nothing is 100% for sure, but I think 99% is good enough for a tech site headline.

Change the headline to "likely successor." Not a big deal.

(Update: Headline changed. Nice work guys.)
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post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

Change the headline to "likely successor." Not a big deal.

Heh. Well played.
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post #17 of 43
Now you just need to update the headline in the forum and the top of the browser window...

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post #18 of 43
Quote:
the iPhone 3GS includes a PowerVR SGX GPU core believed to be the SGX535

"...believed..."?

In the amount of time the 3GS has been out, you mean to tell me that no one can confirm that it's an SGX535?

I know Apple is secretive, but they're now able to put a Distortion Field around their hardware. Amazing!
post #19 of 43
That extensive DirectX Support will come in handy
not.
post #20 of 43
It seems that Nvidia is not about to let Imagination run away with this market. It sounds like the Tegra 2 platform could be a competitor in this space, and they also have a long standing relationship with Apple. Any views on Tegra 2 versus what Imagination has to offer?
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How about a tiny amount of restraint on the headlines instead of fabricating stories out of whole cloth. Try "possible successor" instead of "successor" until you have proof.

I thought the word "candidate" took care of that, or was that word added to the edited title?
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I thought Apple owned only 3% of the company. Are they also represented on the board of directors? If not, they may not be privy to planned product releases.

The first related article in the story states that Apple upped their share from 3.6% to 9.5%. Regardless of board of director representation, as a major device manufacturer and customer, they would be privy to some information on upcoming products. They would likely collaborate with Apple from time to time to ensure they have product that Apple can use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post

That extensive DirectX Support will come in handy
not.

That OpenGL and OpenCL support will though.
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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon_PhoneApart View Post

I thought the word "candidate" took care of that, or was that word added to the edited title?

Things change fast around here.

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post #24 of 43
But i dun think there is enough time for Apple to include this newly released techology into either its Tablet (if there is one coming out in Jan or March) or iPhone.

You know, to design a new chip include the POWERVR SGX545 techology and put it into production of the chip itself, then production of the end product, and probably some testing in between, these steps all take time.

If you look into the history of POWERVR SGX535, NEC licensed Imagination's POWERVR SGX 535 core as early as April 2006 and released a product including that core in October 2007. And Apple hv it in iPhone in June of 2009.

So, i think we could only see it in Apple's products as early as 2011

BTW, may be the POWERVR SGX540 is our only hope of graphic upgrade to the iPhone 2010 and Tablet, otherwise it may just stuck at the same POWERVR SGX535 for another year, just like the 1st and 2nd gen of iPhone hv the same chip.

So, dun put to much hope in hving POWERVR SGX545 in 2010
post #25 of 43
First off this GPU core/IP was discussed a long time ago, probably over a year ago. The core is nothing new. Also at that time the core was suppose to be configurable with respect to execution units. The idea was for scalable performance. So you could have a core optimized for power for the iPhone and a core optimized for performance like in a tablet. I'm not sure this panned out or not.

Strickly speaking this is not a chip but rather IP that others integrate into their chips. As such the performance they list at 200MHz is only one possibility. The actual clock rate depends upon the process things are built on and the acceptable power usage. For example Apple might be able to hit 250MHz on a 40NM node and still keep timing correct and power down.

As far as Apple using the IP I don't think it is a stretch to say it is a given. Apple didn't invest in the company for nothing and it certainly didn't demand OpenCL capability for nothing either.

That OpenCL capability is huge and to me is a sign that Apple expects to have GCD and OpenCL up and running on its portable devices. Considering some of the math capability listed and the rumored new interface I suspect this IP will be required for new versions of iPhone OS. It also makes me wonder if Apple might implement multiple GPUs, with one dedicated to OpenC,L instead of multi core ARM. Such a move would provide for strong parallel computing performance yet keep power demand in check. Sadly in this report I did not see any indication of video decode specific capability, hopefully Appleinsider just missed it.

Maybe later today I will find some info from Imagination. News is always better from the horses mouth.


Dave
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by raykisi View Post

But i dun think there is enough time for Apple to include this newly released techology into either its Tablet (if there is one coming out in Jan or March) or iPhone.

You know, to design a new chip include the POWERVR SGX545 techology and put it into production of the chip itself, then production of the end product, and probably some testing in between, these steps all take time.

If you look into the history of POWERVR SGX535, NEC licensed Imagination's POWERVR SGX 535 core as early as April 2006 and released a product including that core in October 2007. And Apple hv it in iPhone in June of 2009.

So, i think we could only see it in Apple's products as early as 2011

BTW, may be the POWERVR SGX540 is our only hope of graphic upgrade to the iPhone 2010 and Tablet, otherwise it may just stuck at the same POWERVR SGX535 for another year, just like the 1st and 2nd gen of iPhone hv the same chip.

So, dun put to much hope in hving POWERVR SGX545 in 2010

Tegra2 was "released" yesterday. MSI is displaying a tablet with Tegra2 today. I think it's time to rethink your assumptions.
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post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I thought Apple owned only 3% of the company. Are they also represented on the board of directors? If not, they may not be privy to planned product releases.

They invested more money.

http://www.imgtec.com/corporate/news...asp?NewsID=473

Quote:
26 June 2009
Imagination Technologies Group plc - Listing of Shares


Apple Inc. is subscribing for 2,200,000 new shares of Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG) at £ 1.4275 per share, the mid market close price on 25 June 2009, subject only to listing and admission of the new shares. Apple is a licensee of Imagination's technology. Following the share placement and recent share purchases that Apple has notified IMG that it has made in the open market, Apple will have an ownership interest of 9.5%.

Application for the new shares to be admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange and the Official List of the UKLA is being made and it is expected that listing and admission of those shares will occur on Wednesday 1 July 2009.

Sorry, but Apple will eat their own dog food.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by raykisi View Post

But i dun think there is enough time for Apple to include this newly released techology into either its Tablet (if there is one coming out in Jan or March) or iPhone.

It ought to be pretty obvious to you that the core has been tailored to Apples specific needs. Most likely there has been a team approach here, with the two companies working hand in hand to make sure the chip meets future product needs.

It should also be obvious that companies are getting their ducks in a row to be ready for Apples announcement.
[quote]

You know, to design a new chip include the POWERVR SGX545 techology and put it into production of the chip itself, then production of the end product, and probably some testing in between, these steps all take time.
[\\quote]
They certainly do, but what makes you think that Apple and imagination haven't been working on this for some time?
Quote:

If you look into the history of POWERVR SGX535, NEC licensed Imagination's POWERVR SGX 535 core as early as April 2006 and released a product including that core in October 2007. And Apple hv it in iPhone in June of 2009.

Who gives a damn about NEC? Do they have an ownership position like Apple? Are they trying to push out a whole new technology onto the market.
Quote:

So, i think we could only see it in Apple's products as early as 2011

Well you are free to think that. You could be right too. On the otherhand Apple seems to be commited to making it's own SoC. As such Imagination is one of the best choices out there.
Quote:
BTW, may be the POWERVR SGX540 is our only hope of graphic upgrade to the iPhone 2010 and Tablet, otherwise it may just stuck at the same POWERVR SGX535 for another year, just like the 1st and 2nd gen of iPhone hv the same chip.

On the iPhone that is not impossible. However I'm going to suggest that Apple will want to enable GCD and OpenCL support on the Touch devices as soon as possible. The reason being is that it opens up parallel programing on hand held devices. Having the GPU provide some of that capability may be a better trade off than putting another ARM core in a low end unit.

Another consideration is the competition which Apple needs to stay ahead of. That should have been one of the reasons for Apple purchaseing PA Semi. If Apple can't maintain an advantage over the rest of the industry with PA then it was a big boondoggle.
Quote:

So, dun put to much hope in hving POWERVR SGX545 in 2010

I understand but Apple needs to be agressive here to maintain the hardware lead it has. Plus if any of the rumors about the tablet are real then it will need one powerful SoC to work well. Of course Apple could pull an iPhone here and come out with an obviously underpowered device and wait for technology to catch up. I suspect that the tablet market is less forgiving and would not put up with that.


Dave
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

They invested more money.

Good to know, thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Sorry, but Apple will eat their own dog food.

Mmm.... dog food.

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post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Another consideration is the competition which Apple needs to stay ahead of. That should have been one of the reasons for Apple purchaseing PA Semi. If Apple can't maintain an advantage over the rest of the industry with PA then it was a big boondoggle.

The price seemed inexpensive. Once you account for assets I dont think the yield has to be high to rule it a worthy gain, even if its not impressive.

I hope we see something tangible from PA Semi but I have to wonder if there isnt already aspects of the buyout already creeping into Apples products. How would we know without having some chip that is screaming PA SEMI WAS HERE?
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post #31 of 43
I don't know about the SGX545 and Apple. Wouldn't the more advanced Series5XT architecture (USSE2, multi-core etc.) be more suited for Apple's ARM products? DX10.1 doesn't matter to Apple and with the SGX543MP they could simply put a single core version in the iPhone and a dual- or quad-core version in the rumored tablet. The single-core version is almost as powerful (35 vs. 40 million polygons/sec and identical fill rate) but is 35% smaller and has more advanced (non-PC) features.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike11 View Post

I don't know about the SGX545 and Apple. Wouldn't the more advanced Series5XT architecture (USSE2, multi-core etc.) be more suited for Apple's ARM products? DX10.1 doesn't matter to Apple and with the SGX543MP they could simply put a single core version in the iPhone and a dual- or quad-core version in the rumored tablet. The single-core version is almost as powerful (35 vs. 40 million polygons/sec and identical fill rate) but is 35% smaller and has more advanced (non-PC) features.

Interesting. the SDG543MP does look better on the surface but are you sure it does have better performance while being smaller and using less power?
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post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

40M polygons. The 3GS has more than the DS, but still lower than the PSP, which I think has 33M polygons. If Apple has focused on gaming APIs for v4.0 SDK then Apple could be a true competitor. They need to have a way for developers to write on-screen game controls that can easily be switched to a physically attached D-pad when one is plugged in.




Id even go with likely successor.


Polygons ceased to be a benchmark for comparing graphical performance since the evolution of vertex/pixel shaders and the downfall of a fixed function pipeline.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike11 View Post

I don't know about the SGX545 and Apple. Wouldn't the more advanced Series5XT architecture (USSE2, multi-core etc.) be more suited for Apple's ARM products? DX10.1 doesn't matter to Apple and with the SGX543MP they could simply put a single core version in the iPhone and a dual- or quad-core version in the rumored tablet. The single-core version is almost as powerful (35 vs. 40 million polygons/sec and identical fill rate) but is 35% smaller and has more advanced (non-PC) features.


POWERVR SGX 545 takes the possibilities of hand-held graphics to a new level by delivering a full DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.x feature set as well as delivering GPU powered OpenCL heterogeneous parallel processing capabilities for the mobile and embedded markets....

SGX545 was also designed to deliver full profile OpenCL 1.0 capabilities, with advanced features including:
Support of round-to-nearest for floating-point math
Full 32-bit integer support (includes add, multiply and divide)
64-bit integer emulation
3D texture support
Support for the maximum 2D and 3D image sizes specified in the full profile.



Quote:
POWERVR SGX Series5XT architecture is fully scalable for a wide range of area and performance requirements, enabling it to target a wide range of markets from low cost feature-rich mobile multimedia products to very high performance consoles and computing devices.

The family incorporates the second-generation Universal Scalable Shader Engine (USSE2™), with a feature set that exceeds the requirements of OpenGL 2.0 and Microsoft Shader Model 3, enabling 2D, 3D and general purpose (GP-GPU) processing in a single core.

Not OpenGL 3.x nor OpenCL compliant.
post #35 of 43
The order of events seems fairly self-evident.
PA Semi talks to Imagination Tech.
Further secret Apple-specific development is done by PA.
post #36 of 43
Mdriftmeyer higlighted this above and I have to agree, OpenCL support would be a must have for Apple. Further why would they even bother with OpenCL capability if Apple didn't ask for it? I think the handwriting is already on the wall, this guy is headed for at least some Apple products.

The big question is is it powerful enough? If not what options does Apple have. Well other cores is one obvious solution but how about multiple 545 cores. Using multiple GPU cores has been common in the PC world for sometime now, why not a tablet. Or they could use the additional 545 as an accelerator. There are lots of possibilities, plus the way I read the press release they have already taped out with a partner. That partner could very well be PA Semi/Apple.

In the end that OpenCL capability is huge.


Dave
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Mdriftmeyer higlighted this above and I have to agree, OpenCL support would be a must have for Apple. Further why would they even bother with OpenCL capability if Apple didn't ask for it? I think the handwriting is already on the wall, this guy is headed for at least some Apple products.

At first glance that sounds reasonable but remember that OpenCL is open, was collaborated by many companies and is being used by other HW manufacturers that Apple has never used, like AMD and Via.

I do agree that Apple will use an Imagination GPU and it will have OpenCL but to me that is the only thing we can infer with accuracy.
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post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Not OpenGL 3.x nor OpenCL compliant.

AFAIK OpenGL isn't important for smartphones or a possible ARM based tablet, just OpenGL ES is. And I'm not so sure about SGX543MP missing OpenCL:
Quote:
POWERVR SGX543MP features: [...] scalable GP-GPU compute power, which can be fully utilised through all Khronos APIs including OpenGL ES 2.x, OpenVG 1.x and OpenCL

http://www.imgtec.com/News/Release/index.asp?NewsID=449

I think OpenCL support just wasn't finalized yet when they announced the SGX543MP in Q1/2009.
post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Interesting. the SDG543MP does look better on the surface but are you sure it does have better performance while being smaller and using less power?

Maybe it wasn't clear, but the 35 million polygons/sec are for the SGX543 and the 40 million million polygons/sec for the SGX545. So the SGX543 is not as powerful as the SGX545, but with 8mm^2@65nm it is ~35% smaller while only having a ~12% lower polygon/sec count (plus USSE2 instead of USSE1 since it's a Series5XT architecture).

Let's be clear: I think for a PC (or maybe Mac) the SGX545 is better (DX10.1, OpenGL 3.x etc.), but for a smartphone or a tablet with a smartphone OS SGX543MP is, especially since you could easily scale it to be used in both and provide a unified platform. E.g. for summer 2010 a ARM Cortex-A9 single core with SGX543 in a smartphone and ARM Cortex-A9 dualcore with SGX543MP4 in a tablet.
post #40 of 43
I think we are hearing about this, because the company no longer has to EMBARGO information about the chip.

Apple likes to have supplies guaranteed before a new platform, so they don't run out of parts. So even though Apple doesn't own majority stock, if they buy all of your first 2 million GPUs -- then you will keep it under your hat.

The Apple Tablet NEEDS some real 3D muscle. This is the company Apple has been working with. The tablet has been getting worked on, refined and sent back to the drawing board for over 3 years. Jobs is finally happy with it.

So I expect SOME 3D awesomeness, and I think these will be in the Tablet and shipping by June or July -- but we will know for sure by the end of this month.

>> I also expect this tablet is a new video platform with either cell phone access or tethering. Microcells and/or some connection to DVRs. Apple also has a $30 monthly TV/Move subscription coming out.

I think that you should expect SOME state-of-the-art next gen chip in the Tablet. It will have to have openGL and CL support coupled with low power use. Is there ANYTHING other GPU developer that Apple has a relationship with that can fill the bill? Apple is not going to be trying to push an entirely new platform and have underwhelming performance. While many manufacturers announce well in advance of availability -- I'm guessing they have an exclusive 1 year relationship with Apple (or something similar) and in exchange, kept it quiet.

>> Then I think it's highly likely.
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