Look for Furian GPU architecture in 2018 iPhones and iPads

Apple partner Imagination Technologies has unveiled its next-generation PowerVR Furian architecture, an entirely new GPU [graphics processing unit] architecture designed for the evolved graphics and compute needs of next-generation consumer devices. I’d expect to see it in 2018 iPhones and iPads.

Applications such as VR/AR and convertibles require higher graphics resolutions and frame rates, and emerging applications such as ADAS and machine intelligence require increased compute efficiency. Devices designed for these applications are often designed in sub-14nm process technologies. 

According to Mark Dickinson, EVP PowerVR business unit, Imagination, Furian addresses these needs through a multi-dimensional approach to performance scalability, with an extensible design and a focus on easy system integration and layout in the latest processes. With the architecture, embedded products will be able to deliver high-resolution, immersive graphics content and data computation for sustained time periods within mobile power budgets, he adds.

According to Dickinson, Furian is designed for:

  • Multi-dimensional performance scalability by addressing a wide range of markets and requirements. Different designs for low- and high-end IP cores prevent compromises in scalability.
  • Ease of layout in new sub-14nm processes, leading to reduced layout times and resources and enabling easier scaling to higher performance points.
  • To allow future function-specialized pipelines to be tightly integrated with the GPU to deliver functionality that may be too expensive or not feasible to implement on a CPU/GPU/DSP, such as ray tracing capability.
  • To address the increasing compute requirements across multiple applications and market segments with efficient use of computing application programming interfaces, including OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.0 and OpenVX 1.1. 

What’s more, Furian features a new 32-wide ALU cluster design for increased performance density and efficiency. 

Imagination Technologies creates and licenses processor solutions for graphics, video and vision processing, general purpose and embedded processing and multi-standard communications. The company’s range of silicon IP (intellectual property) includes the key processing blocks needed by customers to create the Systems on Chips (SoC) that power electronic devices.

In December 2008 Apple picked up a 3.6% stake in Imagination Technologies. There were rumors that Apple would buy the company. It never happened, but several Imagination Technologies’ employees have gone to work at Apple, including the company’s former chief operating officer, John Metcalfe, and engineers Dave Roberts, Jonathan Redshaw, Simon Nield, and Benjamin Bowman.