Imagination Technologies Extends PowerVR Licensing Agreement With Apple

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Imagination Technologies today announced that it has extended its licensing agreement with Apple. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but Imagination confirmed the deal signed was a multi-year, multi-use agreement that provides Apple with access to the company's PowerVR graphics and video hardware.
Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG, "Imagination") announces that Apple has extended its multi-year, multi-use license agreement, which gives Apple access to Imagination's wide range of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores.

Under the terms of the above licensing arrangement, Imagination will receive on-going license fees, and royalty revenues on shipment of SoCs (Systems on Chip) incorporating Imagination's IP.
Imagination also recently announced its Series6XT PowerVR GPUs, which will replace the current Series6 graphics used in Apple's A7 chipset. In detail, the company claims that its newer GPU chips will deliver a 50% benchmark performance increase when compared to similar configurations of previous generation cores. The technology is expected to debut in devices sometime in 2015.

Apple has used Imagination's PowerVR graphics architecture in all of its iPhone models to this point, and is a major investor in the company with a 10% ownership stake.

Article Link: Imagination Technologies Extends PowerVR Licensing Agreement With Apple
 

casperes1996

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Jan 26, 2014
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Enough power

For iPhone, I find the A7 to be way more than enough. Instead of boasting more power, it would be sweet if A8 was exactly as powerful, but double the battery(half the battery usage, not bigger battery).

iPad can get a little more powerful, since it's battery is already out of this world
 

2457282

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Although this is good, I do wonder why Apple has not bought them out already. Apple essentially design their own ARM CPU chips, so buying this company and have complete control of the GPU design would not be much of a stretch.
 

vmachiel

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Feb 15, 2011
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Well that's fine I guess. I agree with the whole "battery life improvements first" train of thought. Graphics are fine for a mobile device, just give me a phone that can last a couple of days. I hope Apple keeps their graphics for a couple of generations a focusses on battery.

Look at the haswell MBA: not that much powerful, but nobody cares. That battery life is amazing:).
 

Rudy69

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Mar 30, 2009
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An iPhone without support for the custom powervr texture format would be incompatible with a lot of existing iOS games
 

ghost187

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I thought Apple was going to design their own gpu moving forward (with all the gpu based hiring and all).

Also, Apple owns like 10% or so of this company! wonder why they won't just buy them to keep off the competition.

Lastly, I remember Imagination Technologies boasting 1tflop gpu with the series 6, what happened? A7 doesn't even come close and if true than A8 will only improve 50%? We were promised xbox 360/ps3 graphics long time ago from this company along with Qualcomm and nvidia but we are not even half way there yet!
 

MikhailT

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Nov 12, 2007
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For iPhone, I find the A7 to be way more than enough. Instead of boasting more power, it would be sweet if A8 was exactly as powerful, but double the battery(half the battery usage, not bigger battery).

iPad can get a little more powerful, since it's battery is already out of this world
Considering that gaming is one of the most profitable segments of the App Store, this is not going to happen for a while. Apple's going to keep pushing for faster GPUs in each iteration of the iPhone/iPad.

This is Apple we're talking about, they're always focusing on the power efficiency, and that's why Apple's investing into building their own GPUs. They're hiring GPU engineers in this area at their Orlando office.

Without knowing what the agreement covers exactly but I do believe this licensing agreement is meant to help them with their own GPU solutions because it could mean that they're paying for the rights to use ImagTec's patents into their own GPUs, rather than using ImagTec's designs.

Basically, expect ImagTech to become what ARM is to Apple.

Also, Series 6XT is is a complete overhaul of the Series 6 to be more energy efficient while being 50% faster. You can read more about it here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7629/...rchitecture-available-for-immediate-licensing
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
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For iPhone, I find the A7 to be way more than enough. Instead of boasting more power, it would be sweet if A8 was exactly as powerful, but double the battery(half the battery usage, not bigger battery).

iPad can get a little more powerful, since it's battery is already out of this world
I agree with the focus on battery life instead of just performance. It'll be interesting to how the rumours of a bigger iPhone impact this though. If Apple does play the resolution/dpi race and move to 1920x1080, that will require a 2.9x more powerful GPU just to maintain the same performance/pixel of the 1136x640 iPhone 5S. That's why I'm generally supportive of the iPhone moving to a larger screen, but keeping the same 326 dpi so that you're not using GPU performance and power driving extra pixels that I don't think substantially improve display quality.
 

Xgm541

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May 3, 2011
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I agree with the focus on battery life instead of just performance. It'll be interesting to how the rumours of a bigger iPhone impact this though. If Apple does play the resolution/dpi race and move to 1920x1080, that will require a 2.9x more powerful GPU just to maintain the same performance/pixel of the 1136x640 iPhone 5S. That's why I'm generally supportive of the iPhone moving to a larger screen, but keeping the same 326 dpi so that you're not using GPU performance and power driving extra pixels that I don't think substantially improve display quality.
Moving to a larger screen size and keeping 326 dpi means increasing the resolution which means a more powerful GPU is needed.

As for battery life, the tech powering these devices is not the issue, its the battery technology we currently have. The tech field should put their cash into that research instead of better DPI displays or lower power CPU/GPU.
 

Vanilla35

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Apr 11, 2013
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As for battery life, the tech powering these devices is not the issue, its the battery technology we currently have. The tech field should put their cash into that research instead of better DPI displays or lower power CPU/GPU.
Whenever we get the curved display iPhone is when battery will be significantly better. I think that'll probably be the iPhone 7, but the iPhone 6 will be an improvement either way because it'll be a bigger device.
 

chrmjenkins

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Oct 29, 2007
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Although this is good, I do wonder why Apple has not bought them out already. Apple essentially design their own ARM CPU chips, so buying this company and have complete control of the GPU design would not be much of a stretch.
Shared risk. The way it is now, Apple is freely licensing the best of what is on offer to every SoC maker out there. If that chances one day and ImgTec falls behind, they simply license another IP and potentially sell their shares.

If they buy the company, in the event they fall behind, getting rid of it would mean cutting jobs and a lot of other operating expenses.

It is somewhat similar to the powerPC to x86 transition. They didn't own the PowerPC architecture, but they were the only game in town when it came to consumer computing and OSes for powerPC. When PPC fell behind, they had to do a costly architecture change to x86 to catch back up with the market. It's not just about power, either. PPC was preventing them from releasing a powerbook successor because their thermal and power budget simply couldn't be met.

This way, they get to pick what's best and also benefit from ImgTec's good fortunes with the 10% share.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
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Moving to a larger screen size and keeping 326 dpi means increasing the resolution which means a more powerful GPU is needed.
Of course. But my point was that the resolution increase associated with a larger screen but a fixed 326 dpi would be smaller than increasing both screen size and dpi reducing the strain on the GPU. A rumoured 4.8" iPhone 6 with a 1920x1080 resolution would be 459 dpi and have 2.9x the pixels as the iPhone 5S, but keeping the same 326 dpi would yield a 4.8" iPhone 6 with a 1364x767 resolution, which Apple would likely bump to the more standard 1366x768 like in the MacBook Air, and would only be 1.4x the pixels.
 

springsup

macrumors 65816
Feb 14, 2013
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I've known people who worked at IMG; apparently they wouldn't really be a great acquisition for Apple in terms of culture-fit and they reckon it'll be hard for them to keep their technology at the cutting edge as the competition heats up.

ARM are investing heavily in their own GPU IP, and are apparently a much better long-term bet.

Of course, the elephant in the room here is Nvidia. They recently announced that their desktop and mobile GPUs will share the same cores. That brings huge benefits to physics simulation and lighting, and means that they'll all support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.4 and all the rest of it, so developers can port their games across extremely easily and make best use of the hardware they already know.



Because of their massively-parallel architecture, GPUs scale pretty nicely - you can add or remove cores to tune the performance/power characteristics of the parts. Nvidia claims their K1 chip can trounce a PS3 or Xbox 360 while consuming only 5W of power (that's about the same kind of ballpark as the PowerVR chips Apple use, if not less). This chip can even out-perform an Intel Haswell!

The K1 is mainly aimed at tablets, but the fact that Nvidia are now sharing core designs between mobile and desktop parts is huge. The company's entire resources are now being spent optimising and improving that core. It would be nothing short of a miracle if IMG managed to stay competitive with that.

Tony Tamasi said:
When we started talking to customers about this a while ago, a lot of them thought we were crazy. “There’s no way you’ll get a GeForce class thing into a mobile power budget.” All those demos you saw there were in seven-inch tablet power budgets. Small tablet power budgets. We have data showing the power efficiency of Tegra K1 versus a bunch of other things. It’s about one and a half times as efficient as anything else on the market right now.
Source
 
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chrmjenkins

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2007
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I've known people who worked at IMG; apparently they wouldn't really be a great acquisition for Apple in terms of culture-fit and they reckon it'll be hard for them to keep their technology at the cutting edge as the competition heats up.
They also compete in spaces that Apple has no interest in. For example, their line of dedicated ray tracing hardware has only professional applications at this point. They also just acquired MIPS, which is found in set top boxes and other closed box type hardware that Apple isn't in.

ARM are investing heavily in their own GPU IP, and are apparently a much better long-term bet.
The Mali design has appeared in a few Samsung and Chinese designs, but no consistent history of big design wins. Since using it, Samsung has also used ImgTec or just outright used a Qualcomm SoC (and their Adreno graphics) in some major territories like the US.

Of course, the elephant in the room here is Nvidia. They recently announced that their desktop and mobile GPUs will share the same cores. That brings huge benefits to physics simulation and lighting, and means that they'll all support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.4 and all the rest of it, so developers can port their games across extremely easily and make best use of the hardware they already know.

Because of their massively-parallel architecture, GPUs scale pretty nicely - you can add or remove cores to tune the performance/power characteristics of the parts. Nvidia claims their K1 chip can trounce a PS3 or Xbox 360 while consuming only 5W of power (that's about the same kind of ballpark as the PowerVR chips Apple use, if not less). This chip can even out-perform an Intel Haswell!

The K1 is mainly aimed at tablets, but the fact that Nvidia are now sharing core designs between mobile and desktop parts is huge. The company's entire resources are now being spent optimising and improving that core. It would be nothing short of a miracle if IMG managed to stay competitive with that.
Since Nvidia doesn't license their GPUs out (they do offer licenses, but have no design wins), they compete at the SoC level. As an overall SoC package, they have only a mixed history of success. They're particularly weak in their radio offerings, which is why Qualcomm gets so many wins.

The actual GPU used in SoCs has pretty low visibility with most smartphone buyers because they simply don't care. The common denominator in graphics moves forward, their phone can play the latest game they want, and that's all most care about.

Furthermore, K1 will show up the latter half of this year with a 32 bit ARMv7s design. By then, Samsung and Qualcomm have moved onto 64 bit. K1 won't be there until second half of this year if on schedule. Their overall SoC offerings still aren't that compelling when treated as a complete package.
 
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El Hikaru

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Dec 3, 2013
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Not familiar with all these terms but interesting to see the technology is still advancing.
 

Michael Goff

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They also compete in spaces that Apple has no interest in. For example, their line of dedicated ray tracing hardware has only professional applications at this point. They also just acquired MIPS, which is found in set top boxes and other closed box type hardware that Apple isn't in.



The Mali design has appeared in a few Samsung and Chinese designs, but no consistent history of big design wins. Since using it, Samsung has also used ImgTec or just outright used a Qualcomm SoC (and their Adreno graphics) in some major territories like the US.



Since Nvidia doesn't license their GPUs out, they compete at the SoC level. As an overall SoC package, they have only a mixed history of success. They're particularly weak in their radio offerings, which is why Qualcomm gets so many wins.

The actual GPU used in SoCs has pretty low visibility with most smartphone buyers because they simply don't care. The common denominator in graphics moves forward, their phone can play the latest game they want, and that's all most care about.

Furthermore, K1 will show up the latter half of this year with a 32 bit ARMv7s design. By then, Samsung and Qualcomm have moved onto 64 bit. K1 won't be there until second half of next year. Their overall SoC offerings still aren't that compelling when treated as a complete package.
It's the 64-bit K1 that's going to be released for the second half of 2014.
 

Michael Goff

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That's right, my brain is still in 2013 :eek:

Nvidia doesn't have the best shipping track record though. I wouldn't be surprised to see a H1 2015 release.
Oh, I wouldn't be surprised either.

But as of right now, they're pushing for sometime in the second half. I can only hope they're able to do that. Of course, there likely won't be anything using it until around 2015.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
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Of course, the elephant in the room here is Nvidia. They recently announced that their desktop and mobile GPUs will share the same cores. That brings huge benefits to physics simulation and lighting, and means that they'll all support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.4 and all the rest of it, so developers can port their games across extremely easily and make best use of the hardware they already know.
It'll be interesting to see if the extra feature-set is actually meaningful to users rather than being a marketing check-point. In the tablet/mobile space DirectX is only available on Windows Phone and Windows RT neither of which have great penetration. OpenGL is not supported by either Android or iOS, only OpenGL ES. It makes for great demos, but unless there is a big change, those features won't be accessible to most users or developers.

Since Nvidia doesn't license their GPUs out, they compete at the SoC level. As an overall SoC package, they have only a mixed history of success. They're particularly weak in their radio offerings, which is why Qualcomm gets so many wins.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/7083/nvidia-to-license-kepler-and-future-gpu-ip-to-3rd-parties

nVidia does now license their GPU IP to 3rd parties.
 

opeter

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Aug 5, 2007
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So from the beginning of the 3D era and the fight between 3Dfx Vodoo and VideoLogic PowerVR, the winner is the actually PowerVR?
 
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