Imagination Technologies and Apple on Thursday made a disclosure with the London Stock Exchange that the latter has extended its multi-year, multi-use license agreement that allows it to utilise PowerVR graphics cores. The announcement means that Apple plans to continue using ImgTec’s PowerVR graphics in its future system-on-chips that power various consumer devices.
The new agreement gives Apple access to Imagination’s wide range of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores. The consumer electronics giant has exclusively used ImgTec’s graphics processing units (GPUs) inside its A-series system-on-chips since its first own application processor introduced in 2010. Thanks to tile-based deferred rendering technology, PowerVR graphics cores offer very high performance without requiring massive memory bandwidth and processing power, which leads to lower consumption of energy compared to other GPU architectures.
Apple’s latest A7 SoC that powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with retina display uses the most advanced PowerVR 6-series “Rogue” graphics processing core that supports the latest graphics application programming interfaces (APIs), including OpenGL ES 3/2/1.1, OpenGL 3.x/4.x as well as emerging GPU compute APIs including OpenCL 1.x and Renderscript compute.
Apple iPhone 5S with PowerVR 6-series “Rogue” GPU renders Infinity Blade III video-game
At present, Apple is either finalizing the design of the A8 system-on-chip (i.e., the design has passed the stage of “feature lock-down” and is currently getting ready for mass production) that will power this year’s iPhone and iPad, or is beginning the development of A9 and A10 application processors for future generations of gadgets.
It is noteworthy that so far Apple has not licensed Imagination’s MIPS microprocessor cores, some of which can boast even lower power consumption than their rivals based on ARM architecture. MIPS cores could be used inside Apple’s rumoured iWatch. The lack of official license does not mean that Apple is not considering or even experimenting with MIPS.
Imagination Technologies PowerVR graphics IP competes against ARM Mali, Digital Media Professionals Pica, Nvidia Kepler, Vivante Vega and some other graphics IP designs.
KitGuru Says: Well, we now know one thing about the future of Apple devices for sure: they will continue to use Imagination Technologies PowerVR graphics cores developed in the U.K.