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154319-powervr2_500.jpg


While this shouldn't be much of a surprise to most, Apple has confirmed that the iPad uses the same family of graphics chip as the iPhone and iPod Touch. According to reports, Apple's latest iPad SDK Beta 3 documentation confirms this, though falls of short of detailing exactly which chip it is:
Using OpenGL ES on iPad is identical to using OpenGL ES on other iPhone OS devices. An iPad is a PowerVR SGX device and supports the same basic capabilities as other SGX devices. However, because the processor, memory architecture, and screen dimensions are different for iPad, you should always test your code on an iPad device before shipping to ensure performance meets your requirements.
There was some confusion about the actual hardware that Apple had used due to an erroneous report by Bright Side of the News which claimed that Apple used a far less powerful ARM-based GPU.

Apple is a licensee and major investor in Imagination Technologies who creates the PowerVR SGX chips and has used them throughout the iPhone and iPod Touch designs. Apple's new A4 chip from Apple incorporates both the ARM processor as well as the PowerVR SGX GPU in a single chip.

Article Link: Apple Confirms: iPad Uses PowerVR SGX Graphics Hardware
 

fabulicious

macrumors member
Feb 17, 2010
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The MaxiPad with wings... now more powerful. :D

I guess it's not an oversized iPod Touch after all.
 

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ChazUK

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Do PowerVR still use tile based rendering? I've always had a soft spot for their tech during the Kyro PC graphics cards and Dreamcast era.
 

safasule

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Aug 12, 2009
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but given the hardware size of iPad, cant you put more powerful chip than iPhone's. something like laptop style

Nope. Impossible with the current technology. If they were to put in a graphics card that's strong enough to compete directly with laptops, 1) it would make the iPad very thick and warm and 2) it would be very heavy. All these reasons are what make the iPad what it is - portable, thin and light.
 

kaplanfx

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Jan 31, 2010
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but given the hardware size of iPad, cant you put more powerful chip than iPhone's. something like laptop style

PowerVR SGX is a family (architecture) of GPU's. It's not unreasonable to think the iPad might use a more powerful version (faster clock, more cores, etc.) than the iPhone/iPod Touch version. The fastest SGX GPU's aren't going to be as powerful as the best laptop parts, but given the size and power constraints of the device, they can be quite powerful.

-kap
 

DanBUK

macrumors regular
Oct 9, 2007
132
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It's a good thing. Something that very few other companies will be able to compete with.

I'm desperate for some more details on this, the graphics processor and the A4 chip in general- so much still unanswered- just what is the chip capable of? Are we talking netbook speeds or better? I know the iPhone OS is fairly light on demands befitting a small battery powered device. Which developers will be the first to really produce software that maximises the A4 potential?

It seems to me that this device, like the iPhone will really be a grower.
 

Thomas Harte

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Do PowerVR still use tile based rendering? I've always had a soft spot for their tech during the Kyro PC graphics cards and Dreamcast era.

Yep. Tile-based deferred rendering, all the way. And, as of the SGX, now with OpenGL ES 2.0 (ie, fragment and vertex shaders through a high-level language).
 

ChazUK

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Thomas Harte said:
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1-update1; en-gb; Nexus One Build/ERE27) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17)

Do PowerVR still use tile based rendering? I've always had a soft spot for their tech during the Kyro PC graphics cards and Dreamcast era.

Yep. Tile-based deferred rendering, all the way. And, as of the SGX, now with OpenGL ES 2.0 (ie, fragment and vertex shaders through a high-level language).

Very nice! Is the silicon small enough to engineer into a next Gen iPhone?
As more iPad info is coming its getting better and better.
 

cmaier

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Very nice! Is the silicon small enough to engineer into a next Gen iPhone?
As more iPad info is coming its getting better and better.

Size has nothing to do with it. Question is its power consumption and thermal envelope.
 

ChazUK

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cmaier said:
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Very nice! Is the silicon small enough to engineer into a next Gen iPhone?
As more iPad info is coming its getting better and better.

Size has nothing to do with it. Question is its power consumption and thermal envelope.

Aah yes, I completely forgot about that. Smaller battery and less breathing space in the iPhone's case would become an issue.
 

Piggie

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Feb 23, 2010
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So how is this going to fair against the Nvidea Tegra 2 chipset that many (most?) other handheld/tablet makers seem to be going with?

I've seen (as I'm sure a few others here have) the demo's of the Tegra 2 chipset running and doing fancy things (Games, 1080p smooth video, great battery life) and I'm wondering how this Power VR based chip from Apple is going to stack up against it?

I know the iPad (thanks to good coding and I guess an ultra light OS) can throw the screen around nice and quick, but what about 3D games power?
 

sbrhwkp3

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Jul 17, 2005
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Nope. Impossible with the current technology. If they were to put in a graphics card that's strong enough to compete directly with laptops, 1) it would make the iPad very thick and warm and 2) it would be very heavy. All these reasons are what make the iPad what it is - portable, thin and light.

Also, if you read the article carefully, it says Apple has confirmed the iPad uses the same family of GPU as the iPhone and iPod touch.

Does this mean that it could be using a much more powerful version of those chips, only with the same architecture?

(Again, I'm new to this, so if that's completely off, don't blast me too bad!) :D
 

arkmannj

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Oct 1, 2003
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Just so I can wrap my head around this a bit better, does anyone know how it would fair compared to a desktop/laptop GPU ?

would it roughly equate to an old ATI Radion 9200 or what ? (that may be a horrible example, but I think it gives an idea of what I'm looking for)
 

Thomas Harte

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2005
399
4
So how is this going to fair against the Nvidea Tegra 2 chipset that many (most?) other handheld/tablet makers seem to be going with?

I've seen (as I'm sure a few others here have) the demo's of the Tegra 2 chipset running and doing fancy things (Games, 1080p smooth video, great battery life) and I'm wondering how this Power VR based chip from Apple is going to stack up against it?

I know the iPad (thanks to good coding and I guess an ultra light OS) can throw the screen around nice and quick, but what about 3D games power?

Difficult to answer without knowing the exact clock speeds, etc. And even if we could talk about what's in the SDK, it probably doesn't contain the answer. But I will say that as an iPhone developer, I don't personally feel that anyone has tapped anywhere near the full power of the 3GS-class devices. In fact, I don't think the 3G-style MBX has even really been pushed to its limit.

The interface and the market don't really reward or attract the sort of audience that traditionally put excessive weight on graphics.

EDIT:
Just so I can wrap my head around this a bit better, does anyone know how it would fair compared to a desktop/laptop GPU ?

would it roughly equate to an old ATI Radion 9200 or what ? (that may be a horrible example, but I think it gives an idea of what I'm looking for)
In programmability stakes (ie, the sort of images it can produce in hardware), the SGX is up with all the latest accelerators. In that regard it is substantially ahead of the 9200. Per the spec sheet, it even supports geometry shaders (the most-recent type, used for programmatically adding detail to a scene, efficiently doing curved surfaces, that sort of thing, a DirectX 10 and GL 3.2 feature).

Without having the hardware to play on, I don't see how anyone will be able to comment on performance rates.
 
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