UK low-power graphics specialist Imagination Technologies has announced Korean electronics giant LG has licensed its POWERVR graphics technologies. The cores licensed weren't specified, but we'd presume they included some of the latest additions to the Series 5XT family, such as the SGX544 or SGX554.
This announcement is all the more intriguing given that ARM recently announced LG has licensed, not only its Cortex A15 CPU core, but its Mali graphics technology. LG clearly doesn't want to put all its graphics eggs in one basket, and is buying itself to use whichever graphics technology it thinks best.
In an intriguing piece of timing, RBS analyst Didier Scemama yesterday endorsed ARM's Mali graphics on the basis of comparative benchmarks published by GLBenchmark, to which he provided a link. The Samsung Exynos inside the Galaxy S 2 - which uses Mali graphics - was compared to handsets running NVIDIA Tegra 2, Samsung Hummingbird (SGX540) and Qualcom Adreno 205 graphics.
Scemama uses the fact that the Exynos got more top marks than the others in the suite of benchmarks as evidence that Mali measures up well to the competition.
While we don't doubt that the Mali-400 is competitive - Samsung wouldn't have gone for it otherwise and the Galaxy S 2 has been well received, we question how useful this comparative study is. Leaving aside all the usual discussion about the usefulness of benchmarks, there are many reasons to believe apples are not being compared with apples here.
Firstly, the performance of the GPU will be influenced by the CPU cores it's coupled with and the quality of the SoC in which they both reside. Then there's the GPU itself. The SGX540 was launched back in 2007, surely a more contemporary GPU such as the SGX543 found in the Apple A5 chip would be more appropriate. Similarly the Adreno 220 GPU inside the HTC Sensation is a more recent Qualcomm GPU.
But ARM does seem to have delivered what is at least a competitive GPU with the Mali-400, and looks set to give Imagination Technologies a run for its money in the long term. So the latter will be doubly delighted that LG has licensed its technology too, and it will be interesting to see which one LG goes with.
You can find a handy reference chart of all the latest CPU and GPU cores, and which SoCs and devices they appear in, here.