Imagination Technologies POWERVR SGX545 to be Apple iSlate's GPU?

When one of your significant investors is Apple and the world is waiting anxiously for an HD media capable iSlate, you can pretty much expect your new graphics core announcement to be jumped on.  Imagination Technologies have unveiled their POWERVR SGX545 (we can only assume the all-caps just means MORE POWER) graphics core, which supports DirectX10.1, OpenGL ES 2.x, OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 for 3D acceleration, HD media and general purpose crunching.  Apple already use lesser versions of the chipset range in their latest iPhone 3GS and iPod touch.

Thanks to that – and because Apple have invested twice in Imagination Technologies – people are now speculating that the SGX545, not the new NVIDIA Tegra 2, will be powering the Apple iSlate tablet.  It would require a companion processor – an ARM Cortex A9 is most likely, the same as found in the Tegra 2 – but offer a significant graphics boost over the current SGX535 in the iPhone 3GS: up from 28 million polygons per second to 40 million.

The real kicker?  Imagination say "the IP is already proven in silicon in a test chip" as well as being "licensed by a lead partner"; no names mentioned, but you can imagine that's got more than a few people pointing in the direction of Cupertino.  We'll have to wait until later in the month to find out – Apple are rumored to be announcing the iSlate on January 27th.

Press Release:

Imagination Technologies announces POWERVR SGX545 graphics IP core with full DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 capabilities

New core takes mobile & embedded graphics family to a new level; delivers unrivalled capabilities

Las Vegas, USA, 8th January 2010: Imagination Technologies, a leading multimedia chip technologies company, announces POWERVR SGX545, the first and only DirectX10.1 capable embedded graphics IP core available for immediate licensing. SGX545 will also deliver OpenGL ES 2.x and OpenGL 3.2 to deliver class leading 3D graphics performance, and will also support OpenCL 1.0 full profile capability which will enable mobile and embedded applications to take maximum advantage of the capabilities offered by these GPU APIs for both 3D graphics and general purpose applications.

POWERVR SGX545 is available for licensing now. The IP is already proven in silicon in a test chip from Imagination and licensed by a lead partner.

Says Tony King-Smith, VP Marketing, Imagination: "Combining our many years of experience in the embedded, mobile and PC-based DirectX graphics worlds, POWERVR SGX 545 takes the possibilities of hand-held graphics to a new level by delivering a full DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.x feature set as well as delivering GPU powered OpenCL heterogeneous parallel processing capabilities for the mobile and embedded markets. This makes POWERVR SGX545 a compelling solution for application processor SoC designers targeting the next generation of netbook and MID mobile products demanding exceptional graphics capabilities."

The debut of POWERVR SGX545 reinforces the SGX family's outstanding scalability which ranges from ultra-small OpenGL ES 2.0 mobile cores through solutions for feature-rich mobile and HDTV platforms, to high-performance gaming and computing solutions. The SGX family supports a wide range of APIs including DirectX9 & 10, OpenGL ES 2.x, OpenGL 3.x, OpenVG 1.x and OpenCL 1.x.

POWERVR SGX545 delivers real-world performance of 40 million polygons/sec and 1 Gpixels/sec fillrate at 200MHz,* and is capable of driving HD screens with ultra smooth high frame rate 3D graphics content.

New features in POWERVR SGX545 include:

DirectX10.1 API support

Enhanced support for DirectX10 Geometry Shaders

DirectX10 Data assembler support (Vertex, primitive and instance ID generation)

Render target resource array support

Full arbitrary non power of two texture support

Full filtering support for F16 texture types

Support for all DirectX10 mandated texture formats

Sampling from unresolved MSAA surfaces

Support for Gamma on output pixels

Order dependent coverage based AA (anti-aliased lines)

Enhanced line rasterisation

SGX545 was also designed to deliver full profile OpenCL 1.0 capabilities, with advanced features including:

Support of round-to-nearest for floating-point math

Full 32-bit integer support (includes add, multiply and divide)

64-bit integer emulation

3D texture support

Support for the maximum 2D and 3D image sizes specified in the full profile.


USSE (Universal Scalable Shader Engine), the main programmable processing unit within each POWERVR SGX545 pipeline, is a scalable multi-threaded GPU shader processing engine that efficiently processes graphics as well as many other mathematically-intensive tasks. USSE can be programmed using the GLSL language that forms part of the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, or in the C-based parallel processing language used in the OpenCL specification – both APIs from the Khronos Group.

POWERVR SGX545 delivers the broadest range of graphics API feature sets in the industry, while also enabling developers to gain greater access to the full capabilities of the USSE-powered GP-GPU in a broad range of applications including digital imaging, video processing, game physics, cryptography, and other general computing tasks that can benefit from parallel processing.

Editor's Notes

* All fill rate figures stated assuming a scene depth complexity of x2.5.

[via Twitter]