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iPhone graphics may get multiprocessor performance upgrade

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Imagination Technologies, the firm that designs the PowerVR graphics core used in the iPhone, has announced a new generation of its SGX design with multi-processor support, providing embedded graphics applications such as a future iPhone with up to 16 cores.

The company's PowerVR chips have long dominated the mobile embedded graphics market, but the new SGX543MP processors released this week aim to deliver "high-performance console and computing devices" according to a press release issued by the company today.

The company has expressed a desire to push out of the embedded space and into the desktop computing market dominated by NVIDIA and AMD's ATI. Imagination's partnership with Apple may help on that front, as the iPhone family expands upward and as Apple develops technologies that abstract the the CPU and GPUs and makes multi-core processors more broadly usable to general purpose developers, and not just those with specific expertise in coding for multiprocessing.

Imagination's new processor design "maintains the highest performance per mW," a phrase familiar to observers of Apple's Intel transition; Steve Jobs noted at the time that Intel's new Core CPUs offered not just speed, but power efficiency, a critical factor in making them attractive to to the kinds of applications Apple had in its roadmap.

The new graphics cores also support "scalable GP-GPU compute power, which can be fully utilised through all Khronos APIs including OpenGL ES 2.x, OpenVG 1.x and OpenCL." General Purpose GPU computing using OpenCL is one of Apple's core strategies in delivering Snow Leopard, and will also play a factor in the company's mobile devices, unlocking new potential for mobile developers.

Last December, Apple was officially cited as both the mysterious PowerVR licensee that had obtained the rights to use Imagination's current and future graphics and video processing cores in its forthcoming "System on a Chip" designs, as well as an investor, taking a 3% stake in the company. Jobs had earlier noted that Apple had acquired fabless chip design firm PA Semi in order to develop new chips for its iPod and iPhone products.

The next hardware revision of the iPhone, expected this summer, appears set release a major new architecture change, which may include the first fruits of Apple's work at PA Semi.
post #2 of 39
I see the chip as more suitable for a Netbook class device.
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post #3 of 39
Anyone know how much more power this multi-core chip would consume compared to the current iPhone chip?

I assume it is too much for an iPhone, maybe not for a Tablet.
post #4 of 39
A lot of things *may* happen
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post #5 of 39
I think Apple should go with nVidia on this one
post #6 of 39
I don't see what a quadcore chip should be used for in an iPhone.
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post #7 of 39
I thought Nvidia's Tegra was in the lead postion for the next iPhone. Is it still not ready for production?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

Anyone know how much more power this multi-core chip would consume compared to the current iPhone chip?

I think they aren't consuming any less power when going full throttle, but can use considerably less juice whilst not affecting performance when delegating typical tasks to a less cores.


Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post

I don't see what a quadcore chip should be used for in an iPhone.

The same reason that multi-core chips are in other CE. It allows you get more performance per watt. Is your argument that we should just make faster single-core chips regardless of power consumption or that the iPhone is already plenty fast enough?
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post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The same reason that multi-core chips are in other CE. It allows you get more performance per watt. Is your argument that we should just make faster single-core chips regardless of power consumption or that the iPhone is already plenty fast enough?

I don't see what it can use the extra power for at all. Better graphics is one thing, but there's a limit to the amount of screen on the phone.
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post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cbswe View Post

I think Apple should go with nVidia GoForce on this one

Why? Tegra is a nice chip and all but Imagination has a stable platform in PowerVR that's shipping in millions of devices.
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post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post

I don't see what a quadcore chip should be used for in an iPhone.

Seriously, I mean 640k is all you'll ever need.
post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Seriously, I mean 640k is all you'll ever need.

That's going to be a classic that never dies.


Well I can certainly see eventual iphone having HD outputs. VESA is working on a mobile connector for DisplayPort and since the spec supports HDCP I see no reason why we won't see HD output.

Finally iTunes HD content will be transportable. This is one of the reasons why I don't think Blu-ray has a future as bright as DVD. The minute I have a 128GB iPod with HD output is the day I simply need a cable to connect to an HDTV set for playback.
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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

That's going to be a classic that never dies.


Well I can certainly see eventual iphone having HD outputs. VESA is working on a mobile connector for DisplayPort and since the spec supports HDCP I see no reason why we won't see HD output.

Finally iTunes HD content will be transportable. This is one of the reasons why I don't think Blu-ray has a future as bright as DVD. The minute I have a 128GB iPod with HD output is the day I simply need a cable to connect to an HDTV set for playback.

There is no such thing as "HD". 1080p output is irrelevant if your compression rates are so high that you get macroblocking of the pixels during motion. Blu-Ray has 10x the bandwidth of the AppleTV's "HD" and one disk can fill 5 of today's iPhone's, so I wouldn't hold my breath for the death of discs. Maybe Blu-Ray's successor will fall to the iPhone's successor someday, though.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post

I don't see what it can use the extra power for at all. Better graphics is one thing, but there's a limit to the amount of screen on the phone.

There are so many areas in which the iPhone can be much faster and smoother.
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post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

There is no such thing as "HD". 1080p output is irrelevant if your compression rates are so high that you get macroblocking of the pixels during motion. Blu-Ray has 10x the bandwidth of the AppleTV's "HD" and one disk can fill 5 of today's iPhone's, so I wouldn't hold my breath for the death of discs. Maybe Blu-Ray's successor will fall to the iPhone's successor someday, though.

Incorrect. HD is most definitely "defined" by resolution.

1280 x 720
1920x 1080

Progressive for 720 resolutions
Progressive or Interlaced for 1080

I think Apple is smart to choose 720p for iTunes. It looks great on most HDTV
under 65" and the bandwidth is half what 1080p requires for roughly equivalent
quality.

I'd say do a iTunes + for video in a couple of years. Raise the ceiling for 720p video
to 8-10Mbps (up from the 5Mbps today) and with further maturation of h.264 consumers
won't know or care about 1080p and 30Mbps and more datarates unless they have a full
blown home theatre.
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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post

I don't see what it can use the extra power for at all. Better graphics is one thing, but there's a limit to the amount of screen on the phone.

The primary purpose of OpenCL and GP-GPU is to allow a GPU to use its power to better perform general purpose tasks.

Snow Leopard for Mac OS X aims to make this happen, and if we assume it also applies to iPhone OS X, then the iPhone (and other Apple handheld devices) may very well have a GPU.
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post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

Anyone know how much more power this multi-core chip would consume compared to the current iPhone chip?

I assume it is too much for an iPhone, maybe not for a Tablet.

It will be fabbed on a more modern process, but there's a lot more complexity in SGX than MBX, and to then go to multiple cores ...

I could see Apple using the single core variant of this for mobile phone / iPod devices. Maybe even the 2-core MP. A tablet could then use a 4 core or 8 core, maybe at higher speeds.

I don't know how much of this core IP has been developed in the past - often these things are announced, then people license them, then then spend 18 months integrating them and then you see them appear on the market. 2010 could be optimistic, never mind 2009. iPhone 2011, yeah, dead cert to use this.
post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by T'hain Esh Kelch View Post

I don't see what it can use the extra power for at all. Better graphics is one thing, but there's a limit to the amount of screen on the phone.

This is the number one issue, iPhone needs a better processor to fix the performance issues. What performance issues you may ask, well how about the general slow down when recieving E-Mail while in another app or the random unexplained key board lag or apps that are generally unresponsive.

Now this is not to imply that I think the specific chip in this artical is going into the next iPhone but rather just highlights the need for better performance. I suspect that the current iPhone will get a modest performance increases via a SoC update on a shrunken process. Apple will likely strive to keep the current iPhone low cost and drive higher performance on a new larger iPhone.

The reason being many of us do want higher performance and more importantly a larger screen. There is a lot of room on the current iPhone for a larger screen but I'm talking a slightly bigger physical device here. We are taliking maybe a half inch wider and an eigth inch taller in landscape mode. Now I know many will say why bother, the answer of course is that those modest dimensional increases would lead to a huge increase in screen area, especially if much if the Bessel disappears. With the right rearraingement of components we are talking about getting a screen that is almost an inch wider. More importantly a larger device leads to room for another flash chip.

In anyevent yes dual core and lots of GPU cores will help here. As others have mentioned this GPU and CPU combo (speculated) would be even more at home in an even larger tablet. The advantage to Apple is that the whole CPU/GPU package will likely do just a little over a watt of power. That is a lot of computational capability for little watts.

Of course one needs to understand that those computational capabilities are very limited on most GPUs. The term "general purpose graphical processing unit" in my mind is a little mis leading. That due to the constructed processing capabilities in a GPU.



Dave
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

It will be fabbed on a more modern process, but there's a lot more complexity in SGX than MBX, and to then go to multiple cores ...

ARM hardware is difficult to compare as it is so configurable and can be built on numerous processes. The best charts I've seen give ranges of power disapation. However the new Cortex processors do draw more power in general but that is to be expected due to the performance increases.

Apple is likely to gain some power savings via a high integration SoC. Going off chip burns a lot of power so much of that can be gained back by keeping as many functional blocks as possible on chip. The new Shuffle is interesting here as that device is highly integrated but I do wonder if it is one die or a set of stacked dies.
Quote:

I could see Apple using the single core variant of this for mobile phone / iPod devices. Maybe even the 2-core MP. A tablet could then use a 4 core or 8 core, maybe at higher speeds.

I suspect that the current iPhone will get a modest upgrade that hopefully also lowers cost. That would be acceptable if they also come out with a higher performance iPhone.
Quote:

I don't know how much of this core IP has been developed in the past - often these things are announced, then people license them, then then spend 18 months integrating them and then you see them appear on the market. 2010 could be optimistic, never mind 2009. iPhone 2011, yeah, dead cert to use this.

I don't think we will have to wait that long. Remember Apple is an investor in both companies I suspect that Apple had a lot of influence in the design of this new GPU. They may have even dictated certain levels if functionality to make sure it could work with OpenCL



DAve
post #19 of 39
That the updated GPU and CPUs are for the upcoming iPad/iTablet? Makes alot more sense.
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2005 View Post

The primary purpose of OpenCL and GP-GPU is to allow a GPU to use its power to better perform general purpose tasks.

Snow Leopard for Mac OS X aims to make this happen, and if we assume it also applies to iPhone OS X, then the iPhone (and other Apple handheld devices) may very well have a GPU.

Anyone know of any talk about the underlying OSX in iPhoneOS 3?
ie: is it based on Snow Leopard?
It should be, right?
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercr View Post

That the updated GPU and CPUs are for the upcoming iPad/iTablet? Makes alot more sense.

It normal for Imagination ip announcements for an 18-24 month window from initial announcement to SoC availability. Therefore for anything Apple will be doing with Imagination was licensed in 2007. So for iPhone this will still be a Samsung manufactured SoC with either SGX 520 or 530 on board. What Apple have now in a long term partnership with Imagination and my guess is they have access to all of their leading edge ip.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Seriously, I mean 640k is all you'll ever need.

I think the point here is that, and I agree with it, the iPhone has only a 480 x 320 rez screen. Just how much graphics power do we need for that? 20% more? 50% more? 500% more?

I can see it if Apple has other plans in mind.

Like all those 10" screens a number of credible sources have been saying Apple has been buying.

Now, THAT could use much more power.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Incorrect. HD is most definitely "defined" by resolution.

1280 x 720
1920x 1080

Progressive for 720 resolutions
Progressive or Interlaced for 1080

I think Apple is smart to choose 720p for iTunes. It looks great on most HDTV
under 65" and the bandwidth is half what 1080p requires for roughly equivalent
quality.

I'd say do a iTunes + for video in a couple of years. Raise the ceiling for 720p video
to 8-10Mbps (up from the 5Mbps today) and with further maturation of h.264 consumers
won't know or care about 1080p and 30Mbps and more datarates unless they have a full
blown home theatre.

iF you want to talk about a HD output on the iPhone, using Mini Displayport, I suppose, then yes.

But that's years away. The question is what can Apple use such a chip for within the next year, which is the timeframe for this.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I think the point here is that, and I agree with it, the iPhone has only a 480 x 320 rez screen. Just how much graphics power do we need for that? 20% more? 50% more? 500% more?

I can see it if Apple has other plans in mind.

Like all those 10" screens a number of credible sources have been saying Apple has been buying.

Now, THAT could use much more power.

Depends on whether Apple has been requested to make a dock that allows for the Phone to drive external displays for presentations and more.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by roninja View Post

It normal for Imagination ip announcements for an 18-24 month window from initial announcement to SoC availability. Therefore for anything Apple will be doing with Imagination was licensed in 2007. So for iPhone this will still be a Samsung manufactured SoC with either SGX 520 or 530 on board. What Apple have now in a long term partnership with Imagination and my guess is they have access to all of their leading edge ip.

That's what i've heard as well which means that any mutil-core GPU from Imagination isn't likely to show up until 2H 2010.

A PowerVR SGX 530 series GPU along with a faster ARM 11 chip would be a nice upgrade.
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post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2005 View Post

The primary purpose of OpenCL and GP-GPU is to allow a GPU to use its power to better perform general purpose tasks.

Snow Leopard for Mac OS X aims to make this happen, and if we assume it also applies to iPhone OS X, then the iPhone (and other Apple handheld devices) may very well have a GPU.

I think we understand that. But there's a catch to it as well

If you have a high end board, that performs very well, you will get a big boost.

But you will only get that boost in certain areas, not in all areas in which a cpu functions.

If you don't get a high end board, the difference will be modest.

But you don't get a high end board if you don't need it for the graphics performance, because of the cost, and in portable devices, the power needed, and also because its power is limited in what it can be used for.

So the question here becomes, does the iPhone need all that graphics power to make it worthwhile to use what functions that do work for general computing when they are sometimes called? And does the cost of that chip make it too expensive for the boost it gives? And if the power draw is greater when used to boost up general computing tasks, because the chip will be working full out, will the battery drain be too much for most people to be happy with?

Apple is showing a propensity to have power usage rate higher than functionality. We can look to why they are not allowing background apps, because it may draw down the battery by 23%.

I can see some permutations where this would help, but it's murky right now.
post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Depends on whether Apple has been requested to make a dock that allows for the Phone to drive external displays for presentations and more.

That's a whole 'nother ballgame.

I would like to see that, but so far Apple has indicated that they weren't even interested in a keyboard.
post #28 of 39
isn't it obvious? high processing power is a required for ENCODING of video in good quality, for instance in h.264. this would enable efficient recording of video, and also enable high quality (mobile) video conferencing. it can be done parallel in many cores, requiring low power. PA Semi will help in doing that...
and open CL can't do damage here either.
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamLowry View Post

isn't it obvious? high processing power is a required for ENCODING of video in good quality, for instance in h.264. this would enable efficient recording of video, and also enable high quality (mobile) video conferencing. it can be done parallel in many cores, requiring low power. PA Semi will help in doing that...
and open CL can't do damage here either.

Isn't that jumping the gun a bit? You think Apple will be turning this into a camcorder? It doesn't take much to do video now. Jailbroken phones can do it without all the fancy chips. If you were going to use this for high quality recording, you would need a very good lens.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Isn't that jumping the gun a bit? You think Apple will be turning this into a camcorder? It doesn't take much to do video now. Jailbroken phones can do it without all the fancy chips. If you were going to use this for high quality recording, you would need a very good lens.

my emphasis was supposed to be on live video transmission. not really HQ, but the max for 3G. nobody is interested in HQ camcording stuff on a phone. at least not me. the life video transmission: Apple will be first, at least in acceptable quality. but not necessarily in its next incarnation.
post #31 of 39
I wouldn't mind the iPhone taking video. Hell the whole rage with
Flip Mino and Xacti cameras show there's a market for no frills video.

Apple's anti-shake technology in iMovie means you can go really cheap on a
camera because it doesn't need stabilization and correct it in iMovie to a point.

Looking forward to Toshiba's next entry.

http://www.toshiba.eu/camileo/

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post #32 of 39
It definitely wont be in the next iPhone. It will be an older version of SGX, which will still be 1.5 - 2 times faster then current iPhone.

MutiCore SGX will properly come with MutiCore ARM Cortex A9. So i 2010 in the earliest.

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post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Seriously, I mean 640k is all you'll ever need.

The thing is, there is a middle ground. If you leap ahead too far and too soon, you end up costing too much and possibly drain batteries too quickly and maybe at best enable 120fps rendering on a display that can only handle 60. This thing may be a couple product generations away, which may be best that way.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

The thing is, there is a middle ground. If you leap ahead too far and too soon, you end up costing too much and possibly drain batteries too quickly and maybe at best enable 120fps rendering on a display that can only handle 60. This thing may be a couple product generations away, which may be best that way.

I find it to be amusing when the game sites run the fps all the way up, and then (surprise!) find out that they can't use highest quality settings.

What exactly, is the point? I'd rather run the speed at 60, the normal frame rate of the monitor, and have AA all the way up, best lighting, etc.

I wish they would test more usefully.

The 3D graphics on the iPhone look pretty good already, another 50% increase in power, and I don't see how much further they would need to go with 480 x 320.
post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I see the chip as more suitable for a Netbook class device.

I want the next generation iPhone to be more capable than a Netbook. Just because it also acts as a phone doesn't mean the iPhone should be bound to our mindset of a limited device.
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post #36 of 39
If they want to push the iPhone and iPod touch as a gaming device, they should give it all the power they can. I'd rate the current game graphics as above the DS/N64 and below a PSP/PS2, depends on the game. More powerful graphics would probably push it above the PSP/PS2, and with the advantage of motion sensors and touch screen, would give the PSP 2 a run, whenever that arrives.
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by talksense101 View Post

I want the next generation iPhone to be more capable than a Netbook. Just because it also acts as a phone doesn't mean the iPhone should be bound to our mindset of a limited device.

You can only do so much with a small, low rez screen. Only if Apple decides to allow larger monitors, and a keyboard, hopefully, by way of a small dock, will it be able to move past a certain level.

We would just need a small screen, say 6" diagonal, with 720 x 480 rez. That would do a good deal.

Now, I'm reading that Apple is planning an OLED machine or two. This could be very interesting.

As LG is saying this, it has credibility. LG is a large screen manufacturer for Apple, and Apple gave them $500,000,000 for R&D in that area for them.

This link is interesting:

http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Home_Of...5M8X6Q2?page=1
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajprice View Post

If they want to push the iPhone and iPod touch as a gaming device, they should give it all the power they can. I'd rate the current game graphics as above the DS/N64 and below a PSP/PS2, depends on the game. More powerful graphics would probably push it above the PSP/PS2, and with the advantage of motion sensors and touch screen, would give the PSP 2 a run, whenever that arrives.

That's understandable, but the iTouch is already considered to be more powerful than the DS AND the PSP.

How much more power can actually be used in a device for this purpose is questionable. You get to the point where the display, at the rez that it is, can use all effects, past that, more power doesn't do anything useful.

With PC's and consoles, display rez is continually going up, so that more powerful cpus and gpus are required. Not so with the phone. I can see a bit more rez on the phone, but not much more.

For a netbook type of device, yes. You could have four times as many pixels on the screen.
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

"...many of us do want higher performance and more importantly a larger screen. There is a lot of room on the current iPhone for a larger screen but I'm talking a slightly bigger physical device here. We are talking maybe a half inch wider and an eigth inch taller in landscape mode. Now I know many will say why bother, the answer of course is that those modest dimensional increases would lead to a huge increase in screen area, especially if much if the Bessel disappears. With the right rearrangement of components we are talking about getting a screen that is almost an inch wider. More importantly a larger device leads to room for another flash chip.

In any event yes dual core and lots of GPU cores will help here. As others have mentioned this GPU and CPU combo (speculated) would be even more at home in an even larger tablet. The advantage to Apple is that the whole CPU/GPU package will likely do just a little over a watt of power. That is a lot of computational capability for little watts.

Of course one needs to understand that those computational capabilities are very limited on most GPUs. The term "general purpose graphical processing unit" in my mind is a little mis leading. That due to the constructed processing capabilities in a GPU.


Dave

Fixed some spelling too

Eventually these things will be our computers. They will have display-port out for your "Monitor/TV", also a laser projected keyboard. When you're on the go in all fits in your pocket and is fully functional using the built in Multi-touch screen.
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