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Apple suspected in new deal for PowerVR graphics in multi-touch devices

post #1 of 9
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Apple is believed to have extended a deal with Imagination Technologies that will see graphics cores from the chipmaker situated in future multi-touch devices for years to come.

In a statement Thursday, Imagination announced that an "international electronics systems company" has inked a "multi-year, multi-use license" extension that will grant the unnamed company access to its broad portfolio of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores.

The new agreement is said to extend upon a deal originally forged back in July of 2007. At the time, Imagination said "the SoCs to be developed under this license agreement will be produced for this new partner by Imagination’s existing semiconductor partners and/or new chip manufacturing partners."

Given that the "electronics system company" was both a "new partner" and not itself a chip manufacturer strongly suggested that the mystery company was in fact, Apple, which stands among few other companies new to mobile graphics core licensing but dependent upon third party manufacturers who are already Imagination partners.

The iPhone and most other mobile devices use a version of Imagination's PowerVR MBX graphics processor core that supports features of OpenGL ES 1.1. Many mobile chip manufactures, including Apple SoC manufacturing partner Samsung, also have a design license to modify and develop their own SoCs that include the MBX graphics core.

However, Imagination announced separately this past April that it signed a manufacturing-only license with Samsung with respect to its next-generation PowerVR SGX VXD video IP cores, which introduces OpenGL ES 2.0 support, along with a Universal Scalable Shader Engine that provides mobile devices with highly efficient, shader-based 3D graphics. The new core is not only backwards compatible with code developed for MBX, but also runs that code with better performance and efficiency.

This lead people familiar with the matter to suggest that Apple, which recently acquired fabless chipmaker PA Semi, had orchestrated a triangular deal in which it would internally develop its own next-generation mobile SoCs that incorporate Imagination's latest graphics technology and then use Samsung to manufacture the chips.

As a result of license extension announced Thursday, Imagination said it expects its IP cores to be featured "in a number of new SoCs to be used in this company’s future products" for which it will receive on-going licence fees as well as royalty revenues.

By gaining exclusive access to new generations of mobile graphics technology from Imagination's portfolio and pairing them with custom-designed SoCs, Apple can differentiate its products from other smartphones and mobile Internet devices with an edge in performance while offering full support for industry standard OpenGL ES graphics.

It should also be noted, however, that the door is open for Apple to incorporate future versions of Intel's Atom line of mobile processors, which also incorporate Imagination's PowerVR graphics cores.

For more on Apple's secret licensing deal with Imagination, see AppleInsider's two page report titled Apple's bionic ARM to muscle advanced gaming graphics into iPhones.
post #2 of 9
Ok, jeez, I had to read this twice, slowly, to understand it.
post #3 of 9
Apple is right to do this, along with ARM licensing, etc. They tend to do things right, or at least try to, and in a world of mediocrity this means rolling your own. Which is what Apple is doing. Good luck to them.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowayout11 View Post

Ok, jeez, I had to read this twice, slowly, to understand it.

For others who didn't:

All silicon hardware is actually made by software written by engineers. Doing this is hard, so Apple is licensing the software from people who have already done it well so they can customise and improve it. In this case it relates to a low power graphics coprocessor. They've also done it for the ARM CPU. They may even do it for the mobile phone chips.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is believed to have extended a deal ...

This is really old news.

What makes it worthy of the reprint? The fact that the final seal was put on the deal? I'm pretty sure the original, almost identical article was even on this site.

In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

This is really old news.

What makes it worthy of the reprint? The fact that the final seal was put on the deal? I'm pretty sure the original, almost identical article was even on this site.


The multi-year extension was announced today. I'm not sure how that can be old news.

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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

This is really old news.

What makes it worthy of the reprint? The fact that the final seal was put on the deal? I'm pretty sure the original, almost identical article was even on this site.

Mainly because it is a signal to investors that something is coming real soon now! In effect they are saying that the nameless company is about to generate revenue for them.

More so it highlights that more than one device is coming. That in and of its self should send Apple fans off into a dream state imagining what will be coming. In fact this seems to be one very significant bit of information. The message coming just a couple of days before the iPod event is telling also.

At least that is my take, it is worth about as much as all the bits it is written with.

Dave
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

For others who didn't:
All silicon hardware is actually made by software written by engineers. Doing this is hard, so Apple is licensing the software from people who have already done it well so they can customise and improve it. In this case it relates to a low power graphics coprocessor. They've also done it for the ARM CPU. They may even do it for the mobile phone chips.

You are correct in that IC chips are designed with electronic design automation software (just as a Mac computer case is designed with CAD software) , but I think your explanation is somewhat confusing for laymen. In essence, Apple is licensing the digital "blueprints" that describe the architecture of the Imagination graphics cores so they can integrate them into future processors for new iPhones/iPods/iTablet/etc
post #9 of 9
Yes, and they have Coretx A9 as well. And if all these rumors are true, then Next Gen SoC from Apple with SGX VXD Core and Cortex A9 will be many times faster then current Chip.

Quote:
The new core is not only backwards compatible with code developed for MBX, but also runs that code with better performance and efficiency.

I really hope this is true. But as far as i know this is not correct.
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