Imagination eyes return to GPU top table

computer processor
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Imagination Technologies says the launch of the tenth generation if its PowerVR graphics technology is its most significant for 15 years as it seeks to recapture some of its influence in the market.

The IMG A-Series is positioned as a GPU for all devices and will target categories ranging from smartphones and the IoT to servers and automotive applications.

“IMG A-Series is our most important GPU launch since we delivered the first mobile PowerVR GPU 15 years ago and the best GPU IP for mobile ever made,” saif Ron Black, CEO, Imagination Technologies. “It offers the best performance over sustained time periods and at low power budgets across all markets. It really is the GPU of everything.”

Imagination GPU

UK-based Imagination has considerable heritage in the GPU space but has struggled to keep up with rivals and adapt to market developments in recent years. Major mobile processor vendors now own their own GPU technology, while Apple’s decision to move graphics chip production for the iPhone in-house back in 2017 was almost a massive blow.

As Apple was Imagination’s largest customer, accounting for half of its annual revenue, the company’s survival was called into question as its share price fell by 70 per cent. This made it an easy takeover target with some suggesting Apple might be interested. Instead, the chipmaker was sold to a Chinese private equity firm and Apple established an office just a few miles away from Imagination’s headquarters in St Albans.

However Imagination believes the trend of System on a chip (SoC) manufacturers developing their own GPU technology is now an opportunity. It wants to be the supplier of choice for SoC vendors that don’t have such expertise.  

Naturally, IMG A-Series offers a significant technological advantage over the current generation of PowerVR, with Imagination claiming IMG A-Series can deliver five times the performance of the current generation PowerVR, as well as lower power consumption and faster machine learning processing.

However the company also believes its technology also compares favourably with the competition, offering superior performance when compared to products of the same size. In particular, it believes gaming and multitasking are areas of strength.

Imagination will make four high performance and two low cost variations available to cater for these diverse workloads, adding that the GPUs can be deployed in multi-core configurations for cloud-based services.

The company hopes the IMG-A Series will find its way into all types of devices, including smartphones, servers and the IoT, with four high-performance configurations and two lower cost variations made available.

It is expected that the first SoC devices featuring the new architecutre will be available in 2020.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.