Apple to Continue Using PowerVR Graphics Inside Its Application Processors

Apple Extends Licensing Agreement with Imagination Technologies

by Anton Shilov
02/07/2014 | 11:59 PM

Apple and Imagination Technologies have announced that they had extended their multi-year licensing agreement. Under the terms of the contract, Apple can integrate current and future PowerVR graphics processing units designed by ImgTec into its own application processors used inside its consumer electronics products.

 

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.


Apple iPhone 5S with PowerVR 6-series “Rogue” GPU renders Infinity Blade III video-game based on Unreal Engine 3 originally designed with personal computers and video game consoles in mind.

Apple has exclusively used PowerVR graphics cores inside its A-series system-on-chips for iPhone, iPad, iPoe, Apple TV and other devices since 2010. PowerVR graphics cores provide very high performance without requiring massive memory bandwidth and processing power thanks to tile-based deferred rendering technology. Ultimately, more efficient architecture leads to lower consumption of energy compared to other GPU architectures.

Apple’s latest A7 SoC packs multi-cluster PowerVR 6-series “Rogue” graphics engine that supports the latest graphics 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. Going forward, Apple will continue to utilize future-generations of PowerVR graphics engines.


Mainboard of Apple iPhone 5S with A7 SoC. Image by iFixit.com web-site.

At present Apple is preparing to start experimental production of its A8 system-on-chip that will power its eight-generation iPhone as well as sixth-generation iPad that are both due this fall. The development of A9 chip is at full swing with “feature lock-down” stage due probably sometimes this summer. The A9 or A10 SoCs might utilize ImgTec’s next-gen graphics.

It is interesting to note that so far Apple has not publicly expressed interest towards MIPS general-purpose processing cores also developed by Imagination Technologies. Apple could use such chips inside its iWatch and other ultra-low-power electronics that needs long battery life.