Imagination Technologies today announced the launch of its next-generation PowerVR Series7 graphics architecture, setting the stage for further improvements to the graphics used in Apple's iOS device lineup.
Series7XT and Series7XE GPUs achieve up to a 60% architectural performance increase on the latest industry standard benchmarks compared to equivalent configurations of previous generation PowerVR Series6XT/6XE GPUs, maintaining and extending PowerVR’s reputation as the most efficient, highest performance, lowest power GPU.
Of most interest to Apple users is the Series7XT family, which will be the successor to the Series6XT graphics used in Apple's latest A8-series chips. The new Series7XT family ranges from two to 16 shading clusters offering up to 512 cores of graphics processing power, giving developers the ability to include "console-quality effects" such as HDR and 4K rendering in their mobile apps.
- PowerVR GT7200: 2 shading clusters, 64 ALU cores
- PowerVR GT7400: 4 shading clusters, 128 ALU cores
- PowerVR GT7600: 6 shading clusters, 192 ALU cores
- PowerVR GT7800: 8 shading clusters, 256 ALU cores
- PowerVR GT7900: 16 shading clusters, 512 ALU cores
Apple currently uses quad-core GX6450 graphics in its A8 chip for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and more powerful six-core GX6650 graphics in the A8X chip found in the iPad Air 2.
PowerVR graphics architectures have typically taken on the order of 18 months from announcement of licensing to their appearance in products, but things moved much faster with the current Series6XT offerings. Those were announced in January at CES 2014 but made their way into Apple's A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus just eight months later, suggesting the new Series7XT graphics could appear in next year's A9 chips from Apple.
Imagination and Apple have worked closely together over the years, with Apple being a key investor in the graphics firm as it raised its stake to roughly 10 percent in mid-2009.