Apple renews contract with its mobile GPU provider, Imagination Technologies

iPad Air promo (A7 closeup 001)

The fabless semiconductor maker, Imagination Technologies, has been providing Apple’s iPad and iPhone with its graphics and video hardware since 2007. On Thursday, the UK-based company announced extending its licensing agreement with Apple, giving the iPhone maker multi-year access to Imagination’s current and future PowerVR-branded graphics and video GPU blueprints.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Both Apple and Intel are investors in Imagination, with the former holding a ten percent ownership stake in the company…

According to a media release, the licensing arrangement will see Imagination collect ongoing royalty fees and revenues on shipment of Apple chips that incorporate Imagination’s IP.

Apple licenses Imagination’s PowerVR series of GPUs and combines them with ARM-based CPU parts, memory and logic onto a single chip, referred to in the mobile world as system-on-a-chip (SoC).

Apple October 2013 event (iPad Air, A7 GPU performance 001)

All of the SoCs in iPhone and iPad devices include Imagination’s GPU technology, from the Samsung-built SoC inside the original 2007 iPhone to the Apple-designed A4 chip for the 2010 iPhone 4 to today’s A7 silicon which drives the latest iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display.

The A7 chip uses Imagination’s Series6 GPUs (quad-core G6430 graphics).


Imagination recently launched the improved Series6XT PowerVR GPUs, illustrated above. The platform promises a 50 percent performance increase over the current-generation Series6 hardware.

The improved GX6450 GPU features a significant increase in raw GFLOPS and delivers “the industry’s best performance in both GFLOPS/mm2 and GFLOPS/mW,” according to Imagination.

The GX6450 is unlikely to make its way into this year’s A8 chip. As AnandTech stated, consumer availability of the improved Series6 GPUs should not be expected until the latter half of 2015.