According to the latest research of the embedded graphics market by Jon Peddie Research (JPR), Imagination Technologies supplies more GPU IP then all other suppliers combined.
The research provides estimated mobile devices graphics chip shipments for 2011. Increasingly mobile devices have a graphics processor and those processors are integrated in the device’s system on a chip (SoC) application processor.
Application processors are made by a dozen plus semiconductor manufacturers including Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, ST-Ericson, Renesas, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Samsung, and others. All these companies fall into one of two categories, vertically integrated, and IP buyers.
Nvidia, Qualcomm and ZiiLabs are the vertically integrated companies with their own GPU designs; all the others buy GPU IP from one of five IP suppliers, ARM, DMP, Imagination Technologies, Takumi, and Vivante.
The exceptions to this tidy categorization, says JPR are Broadcom and Samsung which buy IP and also have an internal GPU design. Apple makes an SoC, but does not sell it commercially.
GPU IP only suppliers market share
The leading high volume suppliers of application processors are Apple, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung. Three of the four use Imagination Technologies’ GPU IP as well as several other smaller competitors.
Other SoC suppliers buying GPU IP include Actions Semiconductor, Freescale, Huawei, Ingenic, Rockchip, and Wonder Media/VIA. These companies have products in the feature phone market; some are just entering the smartphone and tablet segment.
JPR says it expects the market share to be shift dramatically through 2012 as the existing players get more aggressive, customers lose share, and two new IP companies to enter the market.
Imagination says it has eight licensees for its Series 6 cores including: ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Renesas and MediaTek (plus JPR believes Apple, Intel, and Samsung). This is along with MStar, Ricoh and Rockchip, joining existing partners like Sony, Sigma and Realtek for the company’s PowerVR Series5 family.
Vivante is the surprising number two in IP GPU suppliers. Products incorporating Vivante technologies are based on the Marvell Armada and PXA communications processor. The PXA920 ships in mass market China Mobile OMS and Android TD smartphones from ASUS, Huawei, Lenovo, Samsung, ZTE and many others.
Vivante’s other licensees include Texas Instruments, Freescale, HiSilicon, Ingenic, Rockchip, and many more. Included in JPR's definition of 'mobile' are Smartphones, high-end feature phones, tablets, portable game consoles, cameras, and vehicles. JPR believes that plenoptic cameras with interactive performance using GPUs and embedded cameras with GPUs like Lytro and Ximea will show up this year.
JPR did not include navigational units as it couldn't find many that used a GPU and specifically excluded TVs, STBs, DVD players, watches, MP3 players, and digital picture frames.
JPR believes that as GPU IP prices drop and the quest for differentiation continues, combined with everything being on-line all the time, and the internet of things, GPUs will find their way into these other devices. But, it didn’t happen in 2011.