Qualcomm licenses Imagination Technologies PowerVR IP

File this under the: Strange but possible tag. Buried in Imagination Technologies interim financial results today is the following information:

Licensing

Strong licensing activities

  • Addition of several new key partners including MStar, Ricoh, Qualcomm, Rockchip
  • Many new and extended agreements with existing partners including Sony, Intel, Mediatek, Renesas, Samsung, Sigma, Realtek

This is as far I know the first mention of Qualcomm as a PowerVR IP licensee ever and really interesting given that the San Diego chip manufacturer currently develops its own GPU and graphics IP after its acquisition of ATI’s mobile division a few years ago. The timing would suggest that Qualcomm may have licensed the Rogue GPU IP but until we have more detail we can only speculate at this point. If that was the case then I wouldn’t expect to see any PowerVR tech in QC’s SoC until after the Krait generation of chips (unless the licensing deal is nothing more that patents stuff after all).

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Samsung licenses Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX MP GPU for future Mobile SoC

Samsung’s jump to ARM’s Mali GPUs didn’t last long and will surely make some people (at ARM) a wee bit disappointed. Imagination Technologies have just announced that the Korean mobile giant has licensed their PowerVR SGX MP GPU IP for integration in upcoming mobile and consumer products. As you probably already know Samsung’s latest SoC (Exynos 42XX) used in its high-end smartphones uses a Mali 400 GPU unlike its previous once (the Hummingbird for example) that packed the venerable Power VR SGX540. The MP core IP licensed today is similar to what the PlayStation Vita will have and what Apple is also using in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S.

This move may be related to Samsung wish to be a Windows 8 SoC provider because as of right now ARM’s current crop of GPUs (Mali) aren’t DirectX 9.3 compliant and lack support for DXTC texture compression (their upcoming T604 core should fix that but its debut is still unknown). full press release after the break:

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What’s inside the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Want to know what’s really inside the latest and greatest Android handsets? Engadget, with the help of Android developer Francois Simond compiled  the full list of all the hardware found inside the Samsung Galaxy Nexus :

Silicon

  • CPU: Texas Instruments OMAP4460 (same as the Droid RAZR), 2047.7 BogoMIPS
  • GPU: Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 540 (highler clocked version than the one in the HummingBird SoC)
  • WiFi / Bluetooth module: Broadcom BCM4330 (same as in the Galaxy S II)
  • Audio codec: Texas Instruments TWL6040
  • HDMI: Silicon Image MHD SiI9234 transmitter over MHL (same as Infuse 4G and GSII)
  • USB Switch: Fairchild semiconductors fsa9480
  • Framebuffer controller: Samsung S6E8AA0 MIPI LCD with Gamma correction driver

Sensors

  • Geomagnetic sensor: Brand new tri-axial Yamaha YAS530
  • TouchScreen sensor: Melfas MMSxxx touchscreen
  • Optical / proximity sensor: GP2A (same as Galaxy S and Nexus S)
  • Barometric pressure sensor: BOSCH BMP180
  • Triaxial acceleration sensor: BOSCH BMA250
  • Triple Axis MEMS Gyroscope: InvenSense MPU3050
  • Fuel Gauge (algorithm to track battery’s state of charge): MAXIM MAX17040

Misc. internals

  • Facial recognition elements (Face Unlock): left eye, right eye, nose base, head, face
  • Available resolution for standard apps: 720 x 1184px
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • LCD Density: 320
  • Default display color depth: 32bit
  • Camera uses OMAP Ducati Subsystem, on-screen preview size is 768 x 576
  • Linux kernel: 3.0.1 compiled for SMP with voluntary kernel preemption for best interactivity
  • Android ROM: version 4.0.1, built October 13, 2011
  • Device name: Maguro
  • Main input/output type supported: Headphone, Speaker, Microphone, Bluetooth, Voice, FM, S/PDIF over HDMI; USB Audio DAC (digital-to-audio converter with USB input and stereo outputs) should also be supported

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Samsung Galaxy Nexus is officially official

Good day folks! The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has now been made official a few hours ago alongside Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. In terms of hardware specifications there’s nothing we didn’t already know yesterday so please refer to this post for the full comprehensive list of the device’s internals and externals. Does it look sexy ? Well that 4.67″ HD Super AMOLED screen is definitely a winner even though the overall design looks relatively close to last year’s Google Nexus S. Inside the beast is a TI OMAP 4460 SoC which includes the well regarded PowerVR SGX540 GPU (clocked higher than the original version) similar to what is powering the just announced Motorola Droid RaZR (early benchmark results here). As we have seen in the full specification yesterday there’s also going to be an LTE version of it which will launch later and bit a tiny bit thicker that the regular GSM variant launching in Asia, Europe and North America in November. The only thing missing is the internal MicroSD slot which isn’t mentioned in the official press release.
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Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hardware Specifications

That’s it folks, we finally have the full hardware specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus formerly known as the Nexus Prime. As previously guessed the SoC powering the handset is a Texas Instrument OMAP4460 Dua-Core CPU clocked at 1.2Ghz coupled with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU (clocked higher than the one initially found in the Hummingbird SoC of the Original Samsung Galaxy. The Galaxy Nexus also sport a gigantic 4.7inch Super AMOLED HD screen (1280×720 but only 1196×720 usable throughout the OS because of the onscreen hardware buttons).  It also packs 1GB or RAM, 32GB of internal Storage and a MicroSD expansion slot. On the imaging front the The Galaxy Nexus has a 5MPx camera on the back which can shoot 1080P videos plus a 1.3MP camera on the front. Check out the full specs after the break:

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First Samsung Galaxy Nexus Prime benchmarks

Someone using a prototype or developer version of the soon to be announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus (or Nexus Prime) has submitted GLBenchmark scores indicating that the handset is powered by a TI OMAP 4460 Dual-Core SoC clocked at 1.2Ghz. This may be disappointment to some but unfortunately the way it is because TI is the development partner for Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich (similar to how NVIDIA’s Tegra was Android 3.0‘s primary platform etc.) You can also note that the screen resolution is reported to be 1196 x 720 instead of 1280×720 because of the on-screen “hardware buttons”.

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Qualcomm Adreno 205 vs Adreno 220 / HTC Sensation vs HTC Flyer, HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S

Here’s s quick compilation of benchmark results comparing the Qualcomm Adreno 205 GPU vs Adreno 220 GPU found in the HTC Sensation (as part of the MSM8260 SoC). The are several things to note here: First, the Adreno 205 found in the HTC Flyer and HTC Desire HD are most probably not clocked at the same speed (The MSM8255 is clocked at 1Ghz in the Desire HD compared to1.5Ghz in the HTC Flyer). Secondly, THe screen resolution are different on each handsets:

- HTC Desire HD: 800X480
- Samsung Galaxy S: 800×480
- HTC Sensation: 960×540
- HTC Flyer: 1024×600

Thirdly, the driver versions are obviously not the same on all devices so you shouldn’t take those results as granted, they are just an indication of how these GPUs stack up against each other in synthetic benchmarks. The now famous and awesome PowerVR SGX540 is also included in the mix. Check the results after the break:

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HTC Flyer Review

When I first heard off the HTC Flyer (also know as the HTC View 4G on Sprint) in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress I wasn’t really sure what to think about the product. HTC didn’t allow the press to handle it and the device’s specification left me puzzled about it competitiveness compared to all the more powerful Android Honeycomb tablets all over the show floor.

With Honeycomb tablets being all the rage this year it was definitely surprising to see HTC launching a relatively small Gingerbread tablet powered by a single core CPU with the main differentiator being its n6trig active digitizer and Stylus. I admit, the Flyer didn’t look good on paper. I quickly dismissed this as a dead on Arrival product that only saw the light of the day because HTC was willing to use nVidia’s Tegra 2 SoC and decided to stick with Qualcomm which ultimately resulted in the company only being able to use Gingerbread instead of honeycomb (Android 3.X is only now being made “compatible” with SoC’s other than the Tegra 2).

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First Adreno 220 benchmarks show that it is a beast

Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU’s have always been seen as being a sub-par graphics compared to competing offerings from Imagination (PowerVR) and others like NVIDIA’s Tegra. This was essentially true with the Adreno 200 on Windows Mobile and Android mainly because of poor driver quality. Things are a bit different on Windows Phone 7 where the Adreno 200 is the only currently supported GPU, thanks to the tight integration with the OS and relatively good support provided by Microsoft. You can check out my recent Fable Coin Golf video to see that some pretty nice things can be done with it.

The Adreno 205 which is part of the MSM8X55 SoC package is a step forward in terms of performance and can be comparable in some case with the current top dog, the PowerVR SGX540 as seen in my benchmarks here. Qualcomm has also recently released new drivers for the 205 which slightly improves its performance compared to what you see in my benches (they are the ones used by Sony Ericsson in the Xperia Play).

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LG Optimus 3D Preview: Hands on video

Today LG officially unveiled the first smartphone featuring a glasses free 3D screen and also using TI’s OMAP4 4430 SoC to power whole thing. The LG Optimus 3D has a Dual-core Cortex A9 CPU coupled with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, Dual Channel DDR2 memory and Dual Memory banks according to the company (3 Ds.. get it?). What you essential have here is one powerful smartphone that looks more like a experiment than a really fully thought out product. Why do I say that? Well, first off I’m really a fan of all things 3D (stereoscopic viewing) and the 4.3 inch Parallax Barrier screen only really works well when you view it at a certain angle and from a certain distance. But what really kills it is that everything displayed in 3D looks like a bloody low resolution mess on such a big panel. The parallax barrier also makes the screen look like plastic under certain angles. The other 3D feature of the Optimus 3D is the 2 5Mpix camera on the back that can shoot 720P 3D footage (in 2D the device can shoot in 1080P). Once again I’m not a big fan of this so you will have to try it out yourself and decide if it’s worth it. LG has collaborated with YouTube so you can directly upload the 3D videos shot with the Optimus 3D OTA to YouTube’s 3D channel via the built-in client on the device. LG has also developed a 3D stereoscopic UI that is toggle via a hardware button on the side of the phone. It’s a bit of a gimmick and definitely not a great UX.

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Super Impressive BlackBerry PlayBook video demonstration

I usually don’t post about RIM’s products but their upcoming PlayBook tablet is shaping up to be an awesome piece of hardware. The video you’ll see below is probably one of the most impressive thing to come out of this year’s CES. You will see RIM’s CO-CEO Mike Lazaridis giving the press a quick demo of the PlayBook’s video, 3D and multi-tasking capabilty. The PlayBook is powered by a Texas Instrument OMAP4430 SoC which is made of a Dual Core Cortex-A9 CPU clocked at 1Ghz + a PowerVR SGX540 GPU (similar to the Galaxy S but higher clocked) powering their newly acquired QNX OS . The whole thing is capable of encoded/decoding 1080P video and even 720P 3D Stereoscopic video (yes it’s a beast which is more powerful than the Tegra 2). So check out the video below and see how it can play 1080P, run Quake 3 & several PowerVR 3D samples and browse the web all at the same time:

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OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark: Adreno 205 vs SGX540 / HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

GLBenchmark 2.0 has finally been released to the public today nearly 2 years after being unveiled during MWC 2008. The opportunity was too good so I decided to run it on the HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S to compare the Qualcomm’s Adreno 205 vs the Power SGX540. I did a chart (posted below after the break) so you can compare the full detailed results of both handsets and not only the overall score. This is really important because only looking at the overall results is actually a bit misleading in this case. As you probably already know the PowerVR SGX540 is currently the fastest mobile GPU currently available in retail devices and so far nothing has come close to it (besides the Tegra 2 which is pumping out results close to the Galaxy Tab in OGLES 2.0) but Samsung is currently the only OEM shipping handsets featuring this GPU. The newest entrant is the Adreno 205 which is part of the latest MSM8255 and MSM7X30 chipset from Qualcomm and used in several HTC devices. The Adreno 205 is an updated / tweaked version of the Adreno 200 found in the original QSD8250 chipset. Anyway check out the results below:

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Mobile GPU performance comparison

Google can deny it all day long but the fact is that the Android ecosystem is suffering from hardware fragmentation and things aren’t looking like they are going to get better any time soon. One of the main hardware difference between Android devices is he GPU which is part of the SoC (System On a Chip / Chipset) powering the handset. There’s currently three big players in the market today: Qualcomm’s SnapDragon SoC with the Adreno 200 GPU, TI OMAP 3XXX with the Power VR SGX 530/535 and finally Samsung’s Hummingbird (S5PC110A01) with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU all three of them feature a CortexA8 CPU core. Android and Me wrapped up a couple of benchmarks comparing them and the final verdict is clear as bottled water. Samsung’s Hummingbird is heads and shoulder above the competition thanks to the SGX540 GPU, followed by TI’s and Qualcomm’s chipsets. This should come as no surprise, the SGX540 is currently the most powerful mobile GPU on the market but one has to take into account the quality of the drivers. Qualcomm has been far behind in this sector ever since its acquisition of AMD/ATI’s mobile GPU division nearly 2 years ago. Benchmarks conducted on Windows Mobile devices like the HTC HD2 (SnapDragon with Adreno 200/AMD Z430 GPU) have shown up to a %500 increase in performance in some bechnmarks when homemade/tweaked drivers where used instead of the ones supplied with the retail device. This doesn’t mean that it can rival Samsung’s SGX540 equipped handsets like the Galaxy S line of Android phones but SnapDragon based devices would have graphics performances more in line with what you should expect from a hing-end smartphone in 2010. It will be interesting to see how things will be like on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7  platform (Only Qualcomm is certified to provide chipset for the first WP7 handsets) now that Microsoft will provide/certify the drivers. From what I have seen the graphics performance of the prototype devices is tons better than what we have now on the market. It has been said by me many times (and others who have played with the Samsung Taylor): the UI of WP7 ( Direct3D fully hardware accelerate by the Adreno GPU) is more responsive than the iPhone. Things will only get better in the future when devices like the HTC Mondrian WP7 handset will supposedly feature the updated Snapdragon core and when Google finally sets minimum performance and hardware requirement in a future version of Android (rumored to come in Android 3.0).

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HTC Desire vs Samsung Galaxy S: Quake 2 performance

We already saw the Samsung Galaxy S running Quake 3 without breaking a sweat a few days ago. But how does it compare to HTC’s latest Android smartphone? Here’s a video of Quake 2 running on an HTC Desire next to a Galaxy S…the verdict is that HTC’s handset gets totally slaughtered by Samsung’s offering. My guess is that this has more to do with Qualcomm/HTC sub-par drivers than the actual GPU power under the hood (even though the PowerVR SGX540 GPU in the Galaxy S is in definitely more powerful that the current Qualcomm Adreno 200 found in the QSD8×50 SnapDragon. Watch the whole thing after the break:

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Quake 3 ported to the Samsung Galaxy S

Elootos over at MediaCenterHouse has managed to port Quake 3 Arena to the recently released Samsung Galaxy S and posted a video of it on YouTube yesterday. What is interesting here is that unlike the majority of the “Q3 ported to XXMobile device” videos we can clearly see that this time the game is set to the highest level of polygons detail (look at the rocket launcher). The  S5PC110A01(Hummingbird) chipset is currently the fastest overall mobile chipset on the market now ( can’t wait to see how the  stacks up against it). Video after the break:

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