Apple, Imagination Technologies extend iPhone, iPad graphics chip license pact

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 2014
British semiconductor design firm Imagination Technologies, whose PowerVR graphics processors are a key component of Apple's iOS devices, on Thursday announced an extension of its multi-year licensing agreement with the Cupertino company.

A7
Apple's latest A7 SoC. | Source: Chipworks


Terms of the extension were not announced, but Imagination did say that the agreement spans multiple years and covers a variety of uses. The contract "gives Apple access to Imagination's wide range of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores," Imagination said in a release.

Imagination shares rose by as much as 20 percent on the London Stock Exchange following news of the deal.

As compensation for use of Imagination's technologies -- whose powerful PowerVR S-series chips have powered every Apple mobile device since the third-generation iPhone 3GS -- Apple will pay ongoing licensing fees as well as royalties for each SoC that includes Imagination's intellectual property.

Apple's new state-of-the-art A7 chip, which sits at the heart of the flagship iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina dislay, uses Imagination's PowerVR Series 6 graphics cores alongside a customized, 64-bit ARM-compatible application processor. The A7 offers nearly twice the performance of its predecessor, the A6X.

In addition to the license, Apple is a minority investor in Imagination Technologies. Apple owns nearly 10 percent of the company.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,745member
    Sound like this company is very crucial to Apple. I wonder if a possible acquisition?
  • Reply 2 of 17
    jusephejusephe Posts: 108member
    Just give me the G6650 in the next iPhone !
  • Reply 3 of 17
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,257member

    Let's just hope Imagination owns all the patents used in it's PowerVR graphics chip, thereby excluding this component from the endless list of patent violations trolls and actual patent holders are throwing at Apple.

     

    IMG.L market cap of 490M

    at the bottom of their 52 week range (up today) so maybe a good buying time

  • Reply 4 of 17
    imemberimember Posts: 247member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    Sound like this company is very crucial to Apple. I winder if a possible acquisition?

    I will love to see that, i had no idea that Apple owns 10% 

  • Reply 5 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Weird how the Street view Apple as a zero growth company but views a deal with Apple as a growth opportunity for its suppliers.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Let's just hope Imagination owns all the patents used in it's PowerVR graphics chip, thereby excluding this component from the endless list of patent violations trolls and actual patent holders are throwing at Apple.

     

    IMG.L market cap of 490M

    at the bottom of their 52 week range (up today) so maybe a good buying time




     

    I understand that Apple is always a step ahead of me, but i really like to see Apple buy Sapphire and PowerVR they look so delicious

  • Reply 7 of 17

    For the sake of correctness, all iPhones (2G, 3G, 3Gs and so on) have used Imagination Technologies in the past. The same can be said for iPads (including the Air)

  • Reply 8 of 17
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by willyrc View Post

     

    For the sake of correctness, all iPhones (2G, 3G, 3Gs and so on) have used Imagination Technologies in the past. The same can be said for iPads (including the Air)


    Welcome to Appleinsider, i think you're right

  • Reply 9 of 17
    jusephe wrote: »
    Just give me the G6650 in the next iPhone !

    My understanding is that the current generation of Imagination Technologies Series quad-core PowerVR (Series 6) G6430 is capable of approximately 1 TFLOPs. As best as I can determine the next generation of Imagination Technologies Series 6XT "Rogue" GPUs should rival the processing power in the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

    The Xbox One GPU has 768 shader cores capable of 1.33 TFLOPS.

    The PlayStation 4 GPU has 1152 shader cores capable of 1.84 TFLOPS.

    PowerVR Series6XT GPU cores are up to 50% faster clock for clock, cluster for cluster compared to their Series6 counterparts with more performance for lower power according to Imagination Technologies.


    Please note that the preceding is based on the best publicly available information including press releases from the aforementioned companies and may not reflect real-world performance. For example, considering previous known implementations of technology in Apple products it is quite likely that Apple has purposely underclocked implementations of GPUs in their products for improved battery life and TDP which may impact the stated performance.

    On a very speculative note, I wonder if this level of performance may be one of the reasons we have not seen an App Store for the AppleTV? This assumes, of course, that Apple would consider opening an App Store for the AppleTV - I believe this is inevitable.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Freaking hell. Any insight into what kind of battery drain that would have?
  • Reply 11 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    jusephe wrote: »
    Just give me the G6650 in the next iPhone !

    My understanding is that the current generation of Imagination Technologies Series quad-core PowerVR (Series 6) G6430 is capable of approximately 1 TFLOPs. As best as I can determine the next generation of Imagination Technologies Series 6XT "Rogue" GPUs should rival the processing power in the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

    The Xbox One GPU has 768 shader cores capable of 1.33 TFLOPS.

    The PlayStation 4 GPU has 1152 shader cores capable of 1.84 TFLOPS.

    The 6XT is noted here as being about 50% faster than the series 6:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7629/imagination-technologies-announces-powervr-series6xt-architecture-available-for-immediate-licensing

    "when it comes to performance Imagination has made several improvements and optimizations for Series6XT, with Imagination claiming performance gains of up to 50% versus Series6. Among other things, Imagination has specifically targeted front end and back end performance on Series6XT, nothing that they’ve made changes to improve sustained polygon and pixel fillrate performance."

    The list of GPUs is here:

    http://withimagination.imgtec.com/index.php/powervr/powervr-g6630-go-fast-or-go-home

    There's a 6-core G6630 where Apple used a 4-core G6430. Right now, the performance of the A7 is roughly the same as an Intel HD3000, which is close to the current generation consoles, maybe a bit faster.

    The next-gen consoles are 3-10x faster. Console manufacturers wouldn't have built them using the parts they did if they could get equivalent parts that fit into a phone within a year.

    If Apple used an XT version of a 6-core G6650, maybe they could get 2x faster than the current A7 devices but they'd have to do that for 3-4 years in a row to come up to the next-gen consoles. It's not necessary to reach that level for equivalent visual quality though.

    There was a game came out recently that was funded via Kickstarter ~$500k:


    [VIDEO]


    The graphics are a bit lower quality but at least developers are starting to look at developing immersive games for iOS as a tier 1 platform. The more this happens, the more they can put the graphics power to good use. There are some visually high quality games shown here (it says Android in the title but it's an iPhone in the video):


    [VIDEO]


    The racing games tend to look the most realistic:


    [VIDEO]


    When you think GTA 5 currently only runs on PS3 and 360, iOS devices are already at this quality level and by the end of next year, there will be more units sold than the marketshare of the 360 or PS3 so there's nothing really stopping developers from making visually intensive games.


    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 12 of 17
    dnd0psdnd0ps Posts: 253member
    My understanding is that the current generation of Imagination Technologies Series quad-core PowerVR (Series 6) G6430 is capable of approximately 1 TFLOPs. As best as I can determine the next generation of Imagination Technologies Series 6XT "Rogue" GPUs should rival the processing power in the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

    The Xbox One GPU has 768 shader cores capable of 1.33 TFLOPS.

    The PlayStation 4 GPU has 1152 shader cores capable of 1.84 TFLOPS.

    PowerVR Series6XT GPU cores are up to 50% faster clock for clock, cluster for cluster compared to their Series6 counterparts with more performance for lower power according to Imagination Technologies.


    Please note that the preceding is based on the best publicly available information including press releases from the aforementioned companies and may not reflect real-world performance. For example, considering previous known implementations of technology in Apple products it is quite likely that Apple has purposely underclocked implementations of GPUs in their products for improved battery life and TDP which may impact the stated performance.

    On a very speculative note, I wonder if this may be one of the reasons we have not seen an App Store for the AppleTV? This assumes, of course, that Apple would consider opening an App Store for the AppleTV - I believe this is inevitable.
    But the Apple TV isn't restricted by baterry performance. If they wanted to release an AppStore for A TV They could've already done it for the current generation
  • Reply 13 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post





    My understanding is that the current generation of Imagination Technologies Series quad-core PowerVR (Series 6) G6430 is capable of approximately 1 TFLOPs. As best as I can determine the next generation of Imagination Technologies Series 6XT "Rogue" GPUs should rival the processing power in the Xbox One and Playstation 4.



    The Xbox One GPU has 768 shader cores capable of 1.33 TFLOPS.



    The PlayStation 4 GPU has 1152 shader cores capable of 1.84 TFLOPS.



    PowerVR Series6XT GPU cores are up to 50% faster clock for clock, cluster for cluster compared to their Series6 counterparts with more performance for lower power according to Imagination Technologies.





    Please note that the preceding is based on the best publicly available information including press releases from the aforementioned companies and may not reflect real-world performance. For example, considering previous known implementations of technology in Apple products it is quite likely that Apple has purposely underclocked implementations of GPUs in their products for improved battery life and TDP which may impact the stated performance.



    On a very speculative note, I wonder if this may be one of the reasons we have not seen an App Store for the AppleTV? This assumes, of course, that Apple would consider opening an App Store for the AppleTV - I believe this is inevitable.

     

     

    iphone 5s (G6430@300mhz) does 76.8 GFLOPS

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7335/the-iphone-5s-review/7

  • Reply 14 of 17
    Marvin wrote: »

    Right now, the performance of the A7 is roughly the same as an Intel HD3000, which is close to the current generation consoles, maybe a bit faster.


    Would you mind providing a source? Imagination technologies claims that their best Series 6 "Rogue" graphics processors are capable of 1 TFLOPS.

    Marvin wrote: »

    The next-gen consoles are 3-10x faster. Console manufacturers wouldn't have built them using the parts they did if they could get equivalent parts that fit into a phone within a year.

    If Apple used an XT version of a 6-core G6650, maybe they could get 2x faster than the current A7 devices but they'd have to do that for 3-4 years in a row to come up to the next-gen consoles. It's not necessary to reach that level for equivalent visual quality though.

    Perhaps I misunderstand your usage of "next gen console." The Xbox One and Playstation 4 are approximately 4 times faster than the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3; therefore; assuming improvements that double the performance Imagination Technologies graphics processors would rival the graphics processors and the Xbox one and PlayStation 4 within two generations.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    dnd0ps wrote: »
    But the Apple TV isn't restricted by baterry performance. If they wanted to release an AppStore for A TV They could've already done it for the current generation


    I am not certain that the current Imagination Technologies A5 graphics processor would perform as well as Apple would like.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Would you mind providing a source? Imagination technologies claims that their best Series 6 "Rogue" graphics processors are capable of 1 TFLOPS.
    Perhaps I misunderstand your usage of "next gen console." The Xbox One and Playstation 4 are approximately 4 times faster than the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3; therefore; assuming improvements that double the performance Imagination Technologies graphics processors would rival the graphics processors and the Xbox one and PlayStation 4 within two generations.

    Would you mind providing a source? Nevermind, I see. Interesting. I suspect this is nearer to proper performance modeling. This is why I added the disclaimer.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    Would you mind providing a source? Imagination technologies claims that their best Series 6 "Rogue" graphics processors are capable of 1 TFLOPS.

    There are a number of factors to GPU performance so real-world tests are better. There's a graphics benchmark here:

    https://gfxbench.com/result.jsp?benchmark=gfx27

    The PS4 has an AMD 7850 in it and you can see it gets 471FPS for t-rex off-screen. The iPhone 5S gets 27FPS. The PS3 has an NVidia 7800, this isn't listed but the 7900GS is at 12FPS. Sony has said the PS4 is up to 10x faster than the PS3. It will vary depending on what's being rendered but you have to keep in mind that these companies all have access to the same technology.
    assuming improvements that double, the performance Imagination Technologies graphics processors would rival the graphics processors and the Xbox one and PlayStation 4 within two generations.

    I think they can rival them visually in a couple of generations before they match their raw performance. They'll have to downgrade some of the content for distribution though.
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