iPhone 3G S to use PowerVR SGX GPU core for OpenGL ES 2.0

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The new iPhone 3G S achieves its OpenGL ES 2.0 support using the PowerVR SGX graphics processor core, according to sources familiar with the new iPhone's graphics processor design, as AppleInsider first anticipated in a report last April that broke news of a secret deal struck between Imagination Technologies, Samsung, and Apple.



The report detailed an unusual manufacturing license agreement Imagination made with Samsung to integrate new PowerVR SGX graphics cores into multiple core, System on a Chip (SoC) devices built by Samsung.



While Samsung had a design license for Imagination's earlier MBX graphics cores, it only obtained the capacity to manufacture the new SGX technology. The design rights to SGX were retained by another party in a deal shrouded in secrecy.



In July 2007, Imagination had reported in a press release that its next generation graphics and video IP cores had been licensed "to an international electronics systems company under a multi-use licensing agreement." Imagination also reported that "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."



The electronics system company was not named, but AppleInsider reported at the time that "the fact that this 'electronics system company' was both a 'new partner' and not itself a chip manufacturer strongly suggests that the international electronics mystery company was in fact, Apple, Inc., which stands among very few other companies as new to mobile graphics core licensing yet dependent upon third party manufacturers who are already Imagination partners."



Apple outed as Imagination investor



In September, AppleInsider again linked Apple to another release from Imagination in which a still unnamed "international electronic systems company" had acquired a multi-year, multi-IP, multi-use licence agreement for its current and future portfolio of PowerVR mobile graphics components, including the next generation PowerVR SGX VXD video IP cores.



"Those parts will introduce OpenGL ES 2.0 support, along with a Universal Scalable Shader Engine that will provide mobile devices with highly efficient, shader-based 3D graphics. The new core is not only backwards compatible with code developed for MBX (used in the current iPhone and iPod touch), but will also run existing code with better performance and efficiency," the article said.



The identity of Apple as the mysteriously secret licensee which had secured unique Imagination technology for its own exclusive use using Samsung to manufacture the new 'System on a Chip' parts for future models of the iPhone was later confirmed last December, when AppleInsider reported that Imagination had announced the purchase of 8 million shares of the PowerVR developer and had separately cited Apple as "a licensee of Imagination?s technology."



iPhone 3G S and OpenGL ES 2.0



Sources have now reported that Apple has detailed that Imagination's PowerVR SGX is indeed the graphics processor used in the iPhone 3G S, and that it is "designed for OpenGL ES 2.0." The new 2.0 specification of OpenGL for Embedded Systems eliminates most of the fixed-function rendering pipeline for a programmable approach to 3D rendering using shader programs.



"Almost all rendering features of the transform and lighting pipelines, such as the specification of materials and light parameters formerly specified by the fixed-function API, are replaced by shaders written by the graphics programmer. As a result, OpenGL ES 2.0 is not backwards compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1," according to the OpenGL ES entry appearing in Wikipedia.



To maintain compatibility with the OpenGL ES 1.1 used in existing iPhone and iPod touch devices, "the graphics driver for the PowerVR SGX also implements OpenGL ES 1.1 by efficiently implementing the fixed-function pipeline using shaders," sources report. This indicates that games and other applications unique to the iPhone 3G S and other future models of the iPhone and iPod touch are likely to arrive that will either be exclusive to the new model, or more likely, will support improved 3D graphics on the new device while still working on previous models using the older fixed-function 3D pipeline.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    bonklersbonklers Posts: 54member
    would have liked a little bar graph displaying speeds of old code on old chip, old code on the new chip and new code on new chip.
  • Reply 2 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bonklers View Post


    would have liked a little bar graph displaying speeds of old code on old chip, old code on the new chip and new code on new chip.



    Old Chip :: ---------

    New Chip :: -------------------------




    Just messing with you. I look forward to seeing benchmarks, too.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    PowerVR SGX rock's.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Old Chip :: ---------

    New Chip :: -------------------------




    Just messing with you. I look forward to seeing benchmarks, too.





  • Reply 5 of 54
    winterspanwinterspan Posts: 605member
    Not a surprise, but a great thing anyways. Do we know what model it is? like SGX530 like OMAP3?



    Just as important is what the new CPU is.. I'm guessing Samsung has a manufacturing license for the ARM Cortex-A8 core? Whats interesting is that Samsung's website still only has the iPhone 3G's chip listed as the only ARM11 they have, and there is no ARM Cortex chips at all. Perhaps Apple isn't going through Samsung anymore? Do you think they went through a different provider or actually had a custom chip fabbed?

    although it is unlikely in the iPhone 3GS because of the time frame, apparently Apple does now have a *design* license with ARM now, so PA Semi could actually be designing custom Cortex-like cores that are compatible with ARMv7 instruction set. This is exactly what Qualcomm did with Snapdragon. Instead of having an off-the-shelf Cortex-A8 core integrated with Qualcomm DSPs and cellular components, the Snapdragon actually has a custom core that runs ARMv7 instruction set code. Apparently it is pretty similar to the standard Cortex-A8, but even faster. They also have a 45nm dual-core Snapdragon (1.5ghz!) that also uses custom Cortex-A9-like cores.



    Anyways, I wouldn't doubt that PA Semi is working on some ARMv7-compatible Superchip for the iTablet.
  • Reply 6 of 54
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Heh, so much for the recent ZuneHD will beat iPod Touch because of NVIDIA Tegra posts...



    I'm also guessing that Satoru Iwata will be giving up showing his iPhone during an interview by this time next year...
  • Reply 7 of 54
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by winterspan View Post


    Not a surprise, but a great thing anyways. Do we know what model it is? like SGX530 like OMAP3?



    Just as important is what the new CPU is.. I'm guessing Samsung has a manufacturing license for the ARM Cortex-A8 core? Whats interesting is that Samsung's website still only has the iPhone 3G's chip listed as the only ARM11 they have, and there is no ARM Cortex chips at all. Perhaps Apple isn't going through Samsung anymore? Do you think they went through a different provider or actually had a custom chip fabbed?



    Given the rumor is for a Samsung SoC...



    Quote:

    although it is unlikely in the iPhone 3GS because of the time frame, apparently Apple does now have a *design* license with ARM now, so PA Semi could actually be designing custom Cortex-like cores that are compatible with ARMv7 instruction set. This is exactly what Qualcomm did with Snapdragon. Instead of having an off-the-shelf Cortex-A8 core integrated with Qualcomm DSPs and cellular components, the Snapdragon actually has a custom core that runs ARMv7 instruction set code. Apparently it is pretty similar to the standard Cortex-A8, but even faster. They also have a 45nm dual-core Snapdragon (1.5ghz!) that also uses custom Cortex-A9-like cores.



    I'm thinking that's still one rev away...just a gut feel.



    Quote:

    Anyways, I wouldn't doubt that PA Semi is working on some ARMv7-compatible Superchip for the iTablet.



    That seems more likely. Or even a iPhone OSX netbook/tablet combo based on ARM like the Android netbooks...only with the App Store behind it. There's that French ARM based netbook with the detachable screen that sure would be nice if it ran OSX iPhone rather than Linux and say had a port of iLife and iWork...
  • Reply 8 of 54
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    ok, great detective work, Prince. so now, what the heck does it mean for real life iPhone performance compared to the last generation? faster apps? longer battery life? makes video possible? and how does it stack up against the competition's technology?
  • Reply 9 of 54
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    I want to know if the 3G S iPhone is using a VXE processor to enable the video capture.
  • Reply 10 of 54
    ksecksec Posts: 1,567member
    Um...... I pretty sure AI got this wrong, Since the Old iPhone 3G supports OpenGL ES 2.0 anyway.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post


    Um...... I pretty sure AI got this wrong, Since the Old iPhone 3G supports OpenGL ES 2.0 anyway.



    Nope. OpenGL ES 1.1 only for the 3G.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member
    Does anyone know how this processor would compare to the Sony PSP? Can it do better graphics and render things faster than a PSP now. I'm tired of reading about how the PSP can do much better graphics than a second generation iPod Touch, so maybe the 3rd generation iPod Touch will be even faster than the iPhone 3G S and blow the PSP away.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    s'all great but is AT&T up to snuff? Time will telll.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    ipodrulzipodrulz Posts: 38member
    What I really want to know is how the GPU/CPU stacks up against the Pre/G1/Bold!
  • Reply 15 of 54
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post


    ok, great detective work, Prince. so now, what the heck does it mean for real life iPhone performance compared to the last generation? faster apps? longer battery life? makes video possible? and how does it stack up against the competition's technology?



    Yeah, the techier the article on Apple Insider, the less information it contains and the more irritating it is in terms of actually trying to get useful information from it. For these kinds of developments you are better off reading a PC World article (it will be out in a week or two), or John Gruber if he covers it. At least then you will get enough context to understand what's being said.



    In fairness, Prince MacClean's articles are usually the best of the bunch for context. That's what makes them so good and so readable is the fact that he purposely goes over the background and deliberately places the new development into a context that allows you to understand what it is that's being said. It's usually "Kasper's automated servant" that gives the worst, most confusing junk articles.



    I can't make any sense out of this one myself even though I'm no dummy. Just saying that the new iPhone "... (uses) the PowerVR SGX graphics processor core ..." means little to me. I know generally what that is, which means I know enough to know that there are several variants of the thing with similar names. I also know that the Pre uses a chip that is similar (if not the same), and either comes from the same company or uses a similar name.



    Is this the same processor as the Pre? is it the same as the old iPhone? Who knows? More importantly, is this the rumoured chip that Apple itself is working on, or is this just one of the two or three similarly named chips from that company *before* Apple redesigned it? Any one of those points is really central to why this discovery is even to be considered "news" yet none are seemingly answered by this mish-mash.



    So if you're completely clued out, this article is giberish. If, like me you know just a tiny bit about it, then it's still giberish. If you know your chips backwards and forwards, well then why are you reading this silly article? The only way to know what is really going on is then to do your own research, which I started to do so I could figure it out.



    But then I realised that if I was going to do that I don't need to read Apple Insider at all, and that if the authors were too lazy to write a proper article, then why should I care anyway?



  • Reply 16 of 54
    gregalexandergregalexander Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Heh, so much for the recent ZuneHD will beat iPod Touch because of NVIDIA Tegra posts...



    They didn't say anything about HD video on the iPHone though, did they?
  • Reply 17 of 54
    bonklersbonklers Posts: 54member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    They didn't say anything about HD video on the iPHone though, did they?



    you need one of 2 things to have hd video, either an hd display (not on iphone 3gs) or capability to render hd and pass it to a display with an hd cable (iphone does not have a port for an hd cable) so they did not flat out mention hd, but indirectly it looks like no hd.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    Does anyone know how this processor would compare to the Sony PSP? Can it do better graphics and render things faster than a PSP now. I'm tired of reading about how the PSP can do much better graphics than a second generation iPod Touch, so maybe the 3rd generation iPod Touch will be even faster than the iPhone 3G S and blow the PSP away.



    How is the phone service using that PSP ???
  • Reply 19 of 54
    winterspanwinterspan Posts: 605member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ipodrulz View Post


    What I really want to know is how the GPU/CPU stacks up against the Pre/G1/Bold!



    No one knows yet. Although both the iPhone (by this rumor and it is most likely anyways) and Pre use a chip from the PowerVR SGX series, the specific model is unknown. The Pre uses the SGX530.



    Also, the Pre's OMAP3 uses a 600Mhz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU. Based on the performance improvements, the iPhone 3GS likely also uses a Cortex-A8, but no one really knows yet.



    The Blackberry bold uses a 600Mhz Marvell XScale chip. The XScale architecture is a compatible offshoot of ARM originally made by Intel in the late 90's. Unlike other custom ARM implementations like the Qualcomm Snapdragon, XScale uses the older ARMv5 instruction set.

    I'm not sure about the graphics processor on the Blackberry Bold chip, but it's pointless anyways because Blackberry OS doesn't support hardware graphics acceleration.



    *EDIT - Blackberry Bold is supposed to be Blackberry Storm
  • Reply 20 of 54
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    I'm wondering if Apple's custome designs will really be able to differentiate themselves from the ARM designs you have from more vendors.



    I guess Apple may be able to really tweak the power and other features but it should be interesting to see how their designs fare against Snapdragons and OMAP designs.
Sign In or Register to comment.