Tag: imagination

Apple has Brexit on Imagination tech

Fruity tax-dodging cargo cult Apple has told British graphics maker Imagination it will stop using its graphics technology in the iPhone and other products with two years’ time.

Imagination had been leaning heavily on Apple lately and depends on it as its biggest customer. It is also unclear what Apple is going to do about its graphics technology.

It looks like Apple is trying to slash costs by bleeding its suppliers. It is widely expected to see interest in its iPhone declining and has been putting the thumbscrews on its suppliers to keep its margins and profits up.

Apple paid Imagination license fees and royalties totalling £60.7 million for the year to the end ofApril 2016, half of its total revenue, and is expected to pay about £65 million pounds for this year, Imagination said.

Imagination said Apple had not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer need Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information.

Apple’s notification had triggered talks on alternative commercial arrangements for the current licence and royalty agreement.

Imagination flounders

flounder-6001It looks like having Apple as your number one customer has not done British graphics maker Imagination Technologies much good.

Imagination supplies graphics technology to Apple which if that company was doing well should mean that the UK outfit was flush with cash.

However, the company forecast a surprise loss for its first half after the semiconductor market turned weaker in the June quarter.

The company said overall unit shipments and royalty revenue for the quarter ended 30 June were slightly lower than its expectations, which was likely to lead to a loss for the first six months of its financial year.

The announcement has analysts bemused. It means that either the rest of Imagination’s business has dropped, or Apple must also being seeing a slump in its business

Warrior charges into chip war

Imagination’s first MIPS based Warrior CPU core will be delivered to device makers by the end of the year.

It will mean the first shots in a war to make the MIPS architecture a more potent rival to ARM and x86.

Imagination is better known for its graphics chips, which are, are already under the bonnet of the pricier smartphones and tablets. Last year it bought MIPS Technologies to try to build a CPU business as well.

MIPS chips are more common in network gear such as routers and gateways, and in home media products including TVs and set-top boxes. Imagination MIPS would work in low-power servers and Android smartphones and tablets.

Warrior chips, also dubbed MIPS Series 5, are part of that cunning plan.

According to PC World,  the first chip will be the MIPS P5600. This is a 32-bit design that will be offered with as many as six cores and a clock speed of 2GHz.

This is twice the performance of the current proAptiv MIPS chips at the same clock speed and manufacturing process.

Imagination said the P5600 will be available for licensing in the current quarter,  which means it should appear in products in about 18 months.

Mark Throndson, Imagination’s director of processor technology marketing said that the Warrior chips can handle 128-bit SIMD, which allows more instructions to be run in parallel, improving performance in areas such as video and audio playback.

There are also hardware virtualisation capabilities which will improve security, because multiple operating systems will be able to run on a single core without those data sets being able to interact.

This will be handy for set-top boxes that have to handle security schemes for Hulu, Amazon and Netflix or banking apps.

The P5600 provides a wider data address space of 40 bits, that will allow it to address more memory than normal 32-bit MIPS processors.

The company has said it will release further Warrior designs next year, including the first 64-bit Warrior CPU. 

The CPU’s reign as Czar is over

You can forget about CPUs and the future depends on the cooperation of different engines on SoCs, said Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing, Imagination Technologies here in Dublin today

King-Smith of Imagination consulted his crystal ball to discuss the future of silicon IP.  He said that for volume businesses, consumer trends and behaviours can never be underestimated. Even though they might not understand what technology is, they know how technology relates to their lives.

Understanding the real trends is more important than endless spreadsheets, he said.  All target markets are converging on common SoC platforms. It makes its money out of licensing, a little bit like ARM. Everything is connected to the cloud and unified memory is a huge driver for the future.

SoCs means everything is now mobile, and continues to have advanced capabilities. SoCs are the only way to get scaleability, said King-Smith.

Everything is dominated by power these days and because there’s so much churn people are driving demand.  He said that on-chip accelerators have come a long way and now centreing a system on the CPU isn’t much cop any more.  It has to cooperate wwith the other elements. Ne architecture does not fit all applications. Putting everything onto the CPU doesn’t work any more.

Imagination believes that heterogeneous Socs is the future, and each of the processors, whether it’s CPU, GPU, VPU  (videos) or RPU (radio) has to be optimised.  

Each processor has its own optimised architecture and needs, said King-Smith. They’re all programmable and optimisable.  GPUs are dominating SoC processing, he said.  GPUs will occupy the largest area of many SoCs.

Memory bandwidth is the biggest challenge for manufacturers and physical design optimisation is important too – but “power is the ultimate battleground”, said King-Smith.  Dark silicon is one of the new economic challenges, he said. Benchmarks usually ignore power but Imagination wants to change all of that.

Imagination Technologies comes back from the dead

Imagination Technologies wants to have a crack at putting the fear of god into Nvidia and AMD in the graphics card industry.

For the last decade the graphics space has been dominated by Nvidia and AMD. For a while it looked Imagination Technologies might establish itself as a third option but this did not happen. The company’s tile-based rendering solution, Kyro, failed to gain much mass-market support and has slid from view.

Now Imagination Technologies wants back in but rather than building expensive discrete solutions, IT is focused on deploying GPUs.

Hot Hardware noticed that Imagination Technologies has announced new, higher-end versions of its Power VR Series 6 GPU. And asked the outfit what it was playing at.

It was told that PowerVR G6230 and G6430 were being designed to go “‘all out’ in the GPU market to make a splash.

It is the usual sort of maximum performance minimising power consumption stuff we hear every time a chip comes out these days. In fact we would be impressed if someone wrote on a press release

“slower than sales of a Gary Glitter album and uses more juice than Alexander the Great.”

Anyway PowerVR uses a new ray-tracing SDK out and is using GPU Compute and OpenCL to offload and accelerate CPU-centric tasks.

The chips are made by TSMC at the 28nm node.

The company sadi that PowerVR D4500MP and E4500MP increase the performance for decode and encode of full HD 1080P video applications, the company claims.

The moves show how serious the company is at taking on GPU providers.

Nvidia and Qualcomm both have their own GPUs to showcase with Windows RT when it launches.

However it looks like Texas Instruments has signed up to PowerVR for Windows 8. Intel also uses PowerVR for both Medfield and for upcoming tablets.

It seems that Imagination Technologies have worked out that that while its tile-based rendering is rubbish for PCs it is ideal for mobile/low-power products, mostly because it uses much less electricity.

AMD and Nvidia have to use various tricks to reduce the amount pixels that are shaded but never displayed but tile-based renderers don’t suffer from that at all. Suddenly Imagination Technologies has a technology advantage it did not have ten years ago and can push itself as a number three.

Apple owns a chunk of Imagination.

Nvidia tops Jaegermeister benchmark

Nvidia, the jolly green goblin from Taiwan, was very jolly indeed at this year’s Cebit. On Wednesday evening Optimus Nvidia invited a ton of customers, resellers and a handful of journos to a bash in the Münchner Halle, where everyone had a fun time acting Bavarian.

Thanks to the combined efforts of all attendees, Nvidia managed to score over 400 bottles on the Jaegermeister benchmark, thoroughly outperforming the competition. Denmark’s Atea, who topped the benchmark last year, were left to bite the dust, faen! The win made PR guy Luciano Alibrandi’s evening sweeter, who was also celebrating his tenth anniversary working for Nvidia.

Nvidia Jaegermeister driver

The GTX 560i was shown running Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 in 3D as smooth as butter, the 550 is set for release to satisfy the lower end of the market. Last year Fermi and its late release was a big discussion point and Tegra was there, yet still on the horizon in term of products. Nvidia was still mainly focusing on the graphics market.

One year later, the picture has changed. Nvidia told TechEye it is becoming more and more a mobile company, orientating itself in the market with its Tegra products. A lot of makers are churning out tablets based on Tegra 2, whilst a handful of smartphones will be hitting the market sooner than later. On display was an LG Optimus handset hooked up to an 81″ telly running various games and videos, alongside various tablets and Ionised notebooks from Asus, Acer etc.

LG Tegra 2 phone hooked up to a telly

Nvidia believes the market will shift to mobile devices which will increasingly replace notebooks and large tower PCs. Tablets and phones will become what Germans call an “eierlegende Wollmilchsau”, an egg-laying wool and milk providing porker you can roast on a spit.

Or, simply put, a unified and more-or-less unified device. Consumers and office workers will carry around a smartphone and connect it at home with a notebook, or a telly.

At this year’s Cebit, Skype, email accounts and the Cebit2Go app featuring a full exhibitor list were accessed by Techeye mainly using a smartphone, instead of using a notebook. People increasingly desire near-instant access to communication and content, without the hassle of having to lug around a notebook and wait what feels like an eternity until the OS has booted.

The recent agreement with ARM is symptomatic of Nvidia’s effort to push into this area. Nvidia’s main problem will be to shove its desktop graphics down the milliwatt throat, a big challenge. Ask Intel, it’s Atom always loses in the milliwatt arena to ARM-based SoC’s. In the phone and mobile device market, Nvidia will have to catch up with Imagination Technologies.

Nvidia will certainly not abandon the desktop market, or even the high-performance computing market, where CUDA remains “unbeaten”, to quote a wise sage from a rather large German computer and technology magazine. Nonetheless, entering the mobile device arena is a good albeit challenging bet for the company. After all, Intel enjoys trying to choke it off with its integrated graphics, despite not being a graphics company.

Imagination to buy Caustic Graphics for $27 million

Imagination Technologies has announced plans to buy Caustic Graphics for $27 million.

The all-cash deal will see Caustic’s ray-tracing graphics technology incorporated into Imagination’s graphics processing units and will leave Caustic with no debt or other financial liabilities.

The ray-tracing technology is a method for rendering 3D photorealistic graphics in a way that is more true to the real thing than current graphics techniques. Caustic has patented hardware and software relating to the technology, which could become pivotal in the growing 3D movie and game industry. Imagination will acquire these patents as part of the deal.

Both Caustic and Imagination believe the technology is more cost effective and utilises less power than standard graphics methods, which Imagination may integrate with its PowerVR graphics core IPs, which are employed by a number of leading companies, including NEC, STMicro and Apple.

Imagination said that ray-tracing is traditionally a technology employed in specialised markets, but added: “We intend to change that.” Caustic also believes the buyout can help brings its technology to a broader customer base.

Caustic had gross assets of $1 million on June 30 of this year and it believes it will earn royalties and software revenue for Imagination in the second half of Imagination’s fiscal 2012, which ends on April 30. However, Imagination does not expect real earnings to come in from Caustic until fiscal 2013.

The acquisition is expected to close at the end of this year, subject to standard conditions.

Imagination licenses graphics core to Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments has licensed a high performance multi-core graphics processor from UK company Imagination Technologies.

The chip is from Imagination’s Power VR SG Series 5XT GPU family and will be used in platform based system on a chip designs for smartphones and for other mobile gizmos.

Imagination – which is part owned by Apple – said that the GPU will be used for mobile devices operating at extremely low power.

Imagination CEOHossein Yassaie, the CEO of Imagination, said that the deal was an extension of its long standing relationship with TI. “Our core technology continues to be vital to the significant and growing success of TI’s OMAP processors.”  The deal means that Power VR graphics technology will be delivered to device manufacturers, developers and consumers for years to come, he said.

Earlier this month, Imagination licensed the same series to Renesas, which will also use it for system on chip (SoC) designs for mobile devices.