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Samsung licenses PowerVR MBX

Imagination's deal with ARM pays off

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UK system-on-a-chip developer Imagination Technologies will see its PowerVR MBX 3D graphics core used in ARM-based mobile phone and PDA processors made by Samsung.

The company today said that ARM had sub-licensed the technology to the South Korean giant.

Imagination has already licensed the technology to ARM chip makers Intel and Texas Instruments. TI brought the PowerVR MBX core on board last April and plans to integrate it into future OMAP chips. Intel licensed the technology in July 2002, but as yet it hasn't surfaced in any of the company's XScale chips. That may change when it ships its next-generation XScale, 'Bulverde', sometime later this year.

Hitachi and Sharp are also licensees.

PowerVR MBX uses the screen-tiling technique long a feature of PowerVR graphics features. The core renders a screen as collection of independent tiles, which speeds the overall rendering process considerably. That allows the chip to be relatively simple, in turn keeping the power consumption down.

Nvidia owns similar technology, courtesy of its acquisition some years ago of 3dfx, which acquired it by buying start-up Gigapixel in 2000.

Imagination originally offered the PowerVR family as a mainstream graphics chip, first under its own name, but later as the Kyro brand, released under license by STMicroelectronics. PowerVR was the graphics technology that powered Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast console.

More recently, Imagination shifted PowerVR's focus onto the mobile arena, building a partnership with ARM to promote the technology as a preferred graphics acceleration technology. Under the terms of the agreement, ARM markets and licences the PowerVR graphics and video cores to its customer base, for use with ARM microprocessor families. Imagination gets a licence fee and royalty revenue out of the arrangement. ®

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