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Apple partner Imagination acquires 'cinema quality' graphics chipmaker

post #1 of 13
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Imagination, the maker of the PowerVR SGX graphics processor found in Apple's iOS devices, has acquired the developer of real-time ray tracing graphics technology, which could end up in future Apple hardware.

Imagination Technologies on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Caustic Graphics for $27 million. Caustic creates ray tracing technology, a technique for rendering three-dimensional graphics with complex and more natural lighting models.

The company said the ray tracing technology allows for "cinema quality 3D," and photorealistic graphics that are impractical with current graphics technology.

"Ray tracing is a key additional technology that traditionally has been regarded as the exclusive domain of specialized markets and non real-time applications," said Hossein Yassaie, chief executive of Imagination. "We intend to change that.

Yassaie said the acquisition for $27 million will allow Imagination to create even more advanced graphics technology in the future. Caustic's patented hardware and software technology allows for more powerful and less expensive ray tracing.

When contacted by AppleInsider, a spokesman for Caustic said any comments would need to come from Imagination. A request from Imagination was not returned as of Tuesday morning.

In 2008, AppleInsider revealed 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. The iPhone maker is also a licensee of the company's technology.

"Garnet," by artist JiaBei He, created with technology from Caustic Graphics.

Imagination's PowerVR SGX graphics processor is included inside Apple's custom A4 chip. The A4 processor powers the iPhone 4, iPad, latest iPod touch, and even the Apple TV.

Though Tuesday's announcement made no mention of Apple, it's likely the technology from Caustic could end up in future iPhones or iPads. That could allow even more advanced 3D graphics, a major selling point of Apple's mobile devices as gaming has become a major use of the iPhone and iPod touch.

"Our vision is to enable cinema quality computer graphics at new cost and power consumption design points," said Caustic Chief Executive Chip Stearns. "We are excited at the prospect of becoming part of the Imagination team as we bring ray tracing to a much broader base, and utilize their extensive resources and partnerships to bring our technology to every consumer screen."

Imagination said Caustic's technology can be "efficiently" added to PowerVR graphics processing units in the future. It also said the acquisition will keep the company at the "technological forefront, driving major innovations in the growing 3D graphics market."
post #2 of 13
Only makes sense that as processors become more powerful and cheaper, the pre-rendered becomes instantly rendered. It is mind-boggling how far computing has come in the last 30 years.

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post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Only makes sense that as processors become more powerful and cheaper, the pre-rendered becomes instantly rendered. It is mind-boggling how far computing has come in the last 30 years.

No doubt! My iPhone is more powerful than the PowerMac's I used in college.
post #4 of 13
Want.

Can you imagine this linked to Cinema 4D?
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post #5 of 13
Maybe Apple needs to increase that share holding some more.
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post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Maybe Apple needs to increase that share holding some more.

I don't know why Apple didn't just buy the darn company in 2008. As so many companies are busing their chips, Apple could have had an advantage, and forced other companies to attempt to compete, rather than just buying the chips. Even now, Apple could still buy a majority share. Intel is the other large investor.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I don't know why Apple didn't just buy the darn company in 2008. As so many companies are busing their chips, Apple could have had an advantage, and forced other companies to attempt to compete, rather than just buying the chips. Even now, Apple could still buy a majority share. Intel is the other large investor.

In both the PA Semi and Intrinsity acquisitions, key people started leaving not long after the mergers. I think some people may prefer charting their own course as a company, rather than just supporting the narrow needs of a big parent company. I like the idea of Apple increasing their share, rather than outright acquisition, if only to avoid driving away talent from Imagination Tech.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Though Tuesday's announcement made no mention of Apple, it's likely the technology from Caustic could end up in future iPhones or iPads. That could allow even more advanced 3D graphics, a major selling point of Apple's mobile devices as gaming has become a major use of the iPhone and iPod touch.

I was a bit skeptical of that when I read it but the caustic graphics site notes:

"The Caustic management team is made up of technical visionaries and graphics experts from Autodesk, Apple, ATI, Intel and NVIDIA. Before starting Caustic, company founders James McCombe, Luke Peterson and Ryan Salsbury worked together at Apple, where McCombe was a lead architect for the company's OpenGL Graphics system and Chief Architect of Apple's rendering algorithms for the iPhone and iPod."

Right now, ray-tracing would run around 1 frame per 15 minutes but highly dependent on the scene complexity. Assuming no displacements, volumetrics etc, this would be a reasonable time to expect. This means that to get real-time, they have to speed the process up by 27000x.

This would be 8x anti-aliased though. The site says they should manage to get a 200x speedup over CPU rendering in the 2010 iteration of the hardware implementation of their algorithms and already have 20x. By making some performance optimisations in terms of the quality, which is fine for games e.g 2x AA and taking into account the superior performance of GPUs vs CPUs, making up that other 135x won't be too far off. Perhaps just a couple of hardware iterations away.

As they say, the technology should scale linearly with the co-processors so each fabrication shrink = 2x.

Their benchmark of MRays/sec is more useful for measuring what can be achieved:

http://www.caustic.com/caustic-rt_intro.php

5MRays/sec with a CPU+GPU.

I don't really care about this in iOS devices because it likely won't be used in games yet but as a co-processor licensed by Apple for use in Macs, that would be very nice and would make up for putting Intel's IGPs in the low-end as far as post-production graphics are concerned.
post #9 of 13
What he said :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I was a bit skeptical of that when I read it but the caustic graphics site notes:

"The Caustic management team is made up of technical visionaries and graphics experts from Autodesk, Apple, ATI, Intel and NVIDIA. Before starting Caustic, company founders James McCombe, Luke Peterson and Ryan Salsbury worked together at Apple, where McCombe was a lead architect for the company's OpenGL Graphics system and Chief Architect of Apple's rendering algorithms for the iPhone and iPod."

Right now, ray-tracing would run around 1 frame per 15 minutes but highly dependent on the scene complexity. Assuming no displacements, volumetrics etc, this would be a reasonable time to expect. This means that to get real-time, they have to speed the process up by 27000x.

This would be 8x anti-aliased though. The site says they should manage to get a 200x speedup over CPU rendering in the 2010 iteration of the hardware implementation of their algorithms and already have 20x. By making some performance optimisations in terms of the quality, which is fine for games e.g 2x AA and taking into account the superior performance of GPUs vs CPUs, making up that other 135x won't be too far off. Perhaps just a couple of hardware iterations away.

As they say, the technology should scale linearly with the co-processors so each fabrication shrink = 2x.

Their benchmark of MRays/sec is more useful for measuring what can be achieved:

http://www.caustic.com/caustic-rt_intro.php

5MRays/sec with a CPU+GPU.

I don't really care about this in iOS devices because it likely won't be used in games yet but as a co-processor licensed by Apple for use in Macs, that would be very nice and would make up for putting Intel's IGPs in the low-end as far as post-production graphics are concerned.

But seriously, the requirement at what could almost be considered an anti-trust action by Intel to force manufacturers to utilize their sub-par graphics technology is ludicrous, so if Apple is able to get by this by including their own coprocesor in their board design that could at least make up for this requirement without having to go to overclocking processors from AMD.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Only makes sense that as processors become more powerful and cheaper, the pre-rendered becomes instantly rendered. It is mind-boggling how far computing has come in the last 30 years.

Agreed. I was so impressed with Lemonade Stand's graphics on my early Apple ][
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post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Agreed. I was so impressed with Lemonade Stand's graphics on my early Apple ][



Same here.

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post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

In both the PA Semi and Intrinsity acquisitions, key people started leaving not long after the mergers. I think some people may prefer charting their own course as a company, rather than just supporting the narrow needs of a big parent company. I like the idea of Apple increasing their share, rather than outright acquisition, if only to avoid driving away talent from Imagination Tech.

I agree!
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post #13 of 13
OT: An English Question

Apple Partner IMG, should implies Apple is Partnering with IMG to acquire this company.

Apple's Partner IMG would implies One of Apple's Partner ; IMG has acquired this company.

Just wondering since i am not native.
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