Next-gen graphics processor for Apple's iPhone, iPad now being licensed

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Imagination Technologies is now licensing its PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture, the next generation of the hardware found in Apple's iPhone and iPad, to six key partners -- three of which remain secret.



The new processor, code-named "Rogue," was revealed to have been licensed by ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and MediaTek. The remaining three partners are "yet to be announced," but given the fact that Apple is a major shareholder of the company, its involvement could be considered likely.



As first reported by AppleInsider in 2008, Apple purchased a 3 percent stake in Imagination Technologies, and in 2009 the iPhone maker increased its share to 9.5 percent.



Imagination said this week that its PowerVR Series6 GPU family offers best-in-class "GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs." The company also touted that it has "one of the largest teams of graphics engineers in the world," and that its chips have powered hundreds of thousands of applications created by "an extensive ecosystem of third party developers."



"The growing commitment of the primary players to our roadmap shows that, having evaluated the options, the overall mobile and embedded market is increasingly committing to PowerVR as the de facto graphics standard," said Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie.



AppleInsider was first to reveal in January that the then-unannounced iPad 2 would pack PowerVR's dual-core SGX543 graphics inside Apple's custom A5 processor. The same chip and graphics are expected to be featured in the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone.







More specifically, the graphics processor in the iPad 2 is the PowerVR SGX543MP2, which Apple has claimed helps to boost graphics in the A5 processor by as much as nine times. Benchmarks of just the SGX543GPU have found it to be much faster than its peers powering devices like the Motorola Xoom, or even 2010's first-generation iPad.



With the A5 chip already in mass production for the iPad 2 and the same architecture expected to be utilized in the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone, it's unlikely that Imagination's new "Rogue" graphics processor could appear until at least a so-called "A6" custom Apple processor were to become a reality. The new PowerVR Series6 GPUs are said to be "fully compatible" with Imagination's previous Series5 and Series5XT PowerVR SGX GPUs, which the company said will ensure "a smooth migration path for developers upgrading applications."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    moxommoxom Posts: 326member
    Great! Look forward to this being used in future products...
  • Reply 2 of 37
    That would be Steve Balder, Micheal Hell and Al Bore.

    Imbedded in the brain?
  • Reply 3 of 37
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Great! This is gonna fuel even more rumors about an impending upgrade to one of Apple's devices this Autumn.
  • Reply 4 of 37
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Why is this even supposed to be news? Or even a rumor for that matter?



    Apple regularly updates their chips. Vendors create faster designs for licensees to use.



    So why is anyone the least bit surprised that Apple is evaluating faster chips for future systems?
  • Reply 5 of 37
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Imagination said this week that its PowerVR Series6 GPU family offers best-in-class "GFLOPS per mm2 and per mW for all APIs."





    Considering its size, it is powerful.

    Considering its power consumption, it is powerful.



    But is it powerful, all things considered?
  • Reply 6 of 37
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Great! This is gonna fuel even more rumors about an impending upgrade to one of Apple's devices this Autumn.



    licensing and a finished product are months apart



    apple licensing a new part now means it's about on time for next year's ipad 3. you have to build and test it with the A6, the finished product, FCC approval, etc. just in time for march 2012
  • Reply 7 of 37
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    Correct.



    MacRumors has a more detailed post about this topic.



    The new design is to be sampled in 2011, meaning a finished product in volume production would come some time in the first half of 2012. Which would be in line with a typical March-April release of the iPad.



    Let's face it guys, you aren't getting a Retina Display iPad 3 for Christmas. Ain't gonna happen.
  • Reply 8 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post


    But is it powerful, all things considered?



    Rogue "...delivers over 210 GFLOPS, will exceed 350 million 'real' polygons per second and more than 5 gigapixels per second visible fill rate" (which given POWERVR's deferred rendering architecture results in more than 13 gigapixels per second effective fill rate). More than enough for any iPad3's 2048 x 1536. Sony will use it in the PlayStation 4.



    Pushes full HD at 120 fps. Supports all existing APIs plus the next generation of OpenGL ES, OpenVG 1.1 and DirectX10.1.



    ST-Ericsson's SoC integrating the Rogue GPU, 2.5 GHz ARM Cortex A15 and a LTE modem has been announced shipping before the end of the year.
  • Reply 9 of 37
    bigmac2bigmac2 Posts: 639member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Benchmarks of just the SGX543GPU have found it to be much faster than its peers powering devices like the Motorola Xoom, or even 2010's first-generation iPad.



    What? you're telling me the SGX543 is faster than last gen SGX535 GPU? What a shocking news
  • Reply 10 of 37
    OMG look at them GFLOPS!!! I don't even know what that is, but the number is pretty impressive
  • Reply 11 of 37
    dagamer34dagamer34 Posts: 494member
    The 3 other secret companies are likely to be Apple, Samsung, and LG (LG wants to start making its own custom SoCs like Samsung does).



    It's definitely not Qualcomm or nVidia as they make their own GPUs.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    OMG look at them GFLOPS!!! I don't even know what that is, but the number is pretty impressive



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steve Jobs


    One question: What's a megaFLOP?



    Five.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,144member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post


    Considering its size, it is powerful.

    Considering its power consumption, it is powerful.



    But is it powerful, all things considered?



    For its use, it certainly is powerful. imaginations' GPU's have been well ahead of Nvidias' chips for handheld mobile use. We can look to the Tegra 2, which was heralded as being a very powerful SoC as it was coming out. But Apples' A5 proved to be much more powerful in testing similar devices with both SoC's. A great deal of that difference is in the graphics arena, in which Nvidia was expected to have the lead, considering their history.



    But as we can often see, being a leader in one area, which is desktop GPU's, in their case, doesn't mean that they will lead in other areas.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OccamsAftershave View Post


    Rogue "...delivers over 210 GFLOPS, will exceed 350 million 'real' polygons per second and more than 5 gigapixels per second visible fill rate" (which given POWERVR's deferred rendering architecture results in more than 13 gigapixels per second effective fill rate). More than enough for any iPad3's 2048 x 1536. Sony will use it in the PlayStation 4.



    Pushes full HD at 120 fps. Supports all existing APIs plus the next generation of OpenGL ES, OpenVG 1.1 and DirectX10.1.



    ST-Ericsson's SoC integrating the Rogue GPU, 2.5 GHz ARM Cortex A15 and a LTE modem has been announced shipping before the end of the year.



    I don't have the numbers handy for the current GPU. For the iPad 3 to have the same apparent graphics abilities with a screen with four times the pixels, the GPU should be four times as powerful, otherwise, the graphics will actually be slower in those areas where processing power is needed, such as certain games, 3D apps, video and photo editing, etc.
  • Reply 14 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    I don't have the numbers handy for the current GPU. For the iPad 3 to have the same apparent graphics abilities with a screen with four times the pixels, the GPU should be four times as powerful, otherwise, the graphics will actually be slower in those areas where processing power is needed, such as certain games, 3D apps, video and photo editing, etc.



    Single SGX543 core is rated for 35million polys/sec, 1Gpixel/sec fillrate (@200MHz) and scales almost linearly with number of cores, so the A5's SGX543MP2 should be ~70m polys/sec, 2Gpixel/sec if they stick with the 200MHz core spec.



    Hopefully those numbers for the SGX6xx are "per core" as well, if not then you're looking at ~5x the geometry throughput but only ~2.5x the fillrate throughput of the A5.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    210 GFLOPs??? Is this per core? The 320M present in my 2010 MBP has only 140! The next-gen iPad will have PS3 level graphics at higher resolutions.... Now gimme some AAA titles and I'd ditch my MBP in a second
  • Reply 16 of 37
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    For its use, it certainly is powerful. imaginations' GPU's have been well ahead of Nvidias' chips for handheld mobile use. We can look to the Tegra 2, which was heralded as being a very powerful SoC as it was coming out. But Apples' A5 proved to be much more powerful in testing similar devices with both SoC's. A great deal of that difference is in the graphics arena, in which Nvidia was expected to have the lead, considering their history.



    But as we can often see, being a leader in one area, which is desktop GPU's, in their case, doesn't mean that they will lead in other areas.



    Mobile graphics is completely different from desktop graphics, it's really nothing like it. Add to that that NVidia's desktop GPU architectures have always emphasized their brute force approach to getting high end performance, and you'll understand why they are really trailing not even just Imagination but also Qualcomm (Adreno). Imagination has invested over a decade of expertise in their tile-based deferred rendering approach, and now that mobile graphics performance is getting big, they are reaping the benefits. I don't think NVidia will catch up, even though they are already trying to make everyone believe they will, hyping their Kal-El chip just like they did with Tegra 2.



    Gotta love how all the apple haters have been completely mute about specs and graphics performance since the iPad 2. Months of blathering about specs, graphics performance and how Tegra 2 was going to humiliate the iPad, and now, all of a sudden, it's not important anymore.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    morkymorky Posts: 193member
    How long until Apple releases an AppleTV with an A5 and a game controller? Apple has game developers on board with iOS and turning the ATV into a console should be pretty trivial at this point. As opposed the Sony and MSFT who have heavy-duty consoles that also support TV, this would be great for the casual gamer who doesn't really want a full-blown game console.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    morkymorky Posts: 193member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Why is this even supposed to be news? Or even a rumor for that matter?



    Apple regularly updates their chips. Vendors create faster designs for licensees to use.



    So why is anyone the least bit surprised that Apple is evaluating faster chips for future systems?



    Dude, it's an Apple news site. We are getting news about the graphics processor that will have enough oomf to power a 10-inch retina display. No one is surprised, but it IS news. Why don't you visit a site about Intel products that doesn't report news about new Intel processors?
  • Reply 19 of 37
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post


    Considering its size, it is powerful.

    Considering its power consumption, it is powerful.



    But is it powerful, all things considered?



    I don't think there's any such thing as "powerful" in the abstract; there is only performance for a given device for a given use.



    I would say the recent explosive rise of mobile computing has been predicated on mobile hardware being "powerful enough", in that such devices can run the software people want in a satisfying manner-- that is, smoothly and with good battery life.



    It doesn't look like the software/hardware gap is going to be closing any time soon, either, so "good enough" is quickly going to become "excellent", as in "why on earth would you even want to bother with desktop class hardware, whose performance vastly exceeds the what's necessary to run the software you use 99% of the time?"
  • Reply 20 of 37
    patranuspatranus Posts: 366member
    To put it into perspective, a 300MHZ B&W G3 got ~150 MFlops and if I remember correctly the end of line dual CPU G4s were up to 15 GFlops( with the G5 being...80?)
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