PowerVR graphics upgrade allows for 4K iPhone displays

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iphone-new
It also paves the way for iPhone VR.
Photo: Apple

Imagination Technologies, the company behind the PowerVR graphics technology used in iPhone and iPad, has unleashed its powerful new Furion architecture.

It’s the first major upgrade since the introduction of Rogue, the architecture currently used in iPhone 7, and it’s capable of powering 4K smartphone and tablet displays with four times the resolution of 1080p.

Custom PowerVR graphics have been baked into Apple’s A-series processors since the original A4 chip was unveiled in 2010. They’ve gotten more powerful every year, allowing for console-quality games on iOS that are unmatched by handheld consoles.

With Furion, Imagination is pushing the boundaries even further. The new architecture paves the way for graphics-intensive applications like virtual reality, and super-sharp 4K displays that fit in our palms.

The Rogue architecture used in Apple’s latest iOS devices boasts six graphics cores that are clocked at 900MHz, however, these can be boosted to run faster for short periods when an increase in speed is necessary.

In comparison, Furion can handle more graphics cores and has the ability to scale performance over longer time periods. Its GPUs are smaller and operate at higher clock speeds, delivering a performance increase of up to 35 percent over Rogue.

4K and VR go hand-in-hand

You might think that putting a 4K display in a smartphone is overkill, but manufacturers like Sony are already adopting them. They obviously require more power than 1080p or Quad HD displays, which are already incredibly sharp at smartphone sizes.

But there’s a good reason why increased pixel density is becoming more important than ever before — and that’s virtual reality. Although you might not be able to see individual pixels even on a 1080p display with your naked eye, it’s a different story when you use VR lenses.

VR lenses magnify your smartphone screen, making the pixels more noticeable. Quad HD displays like those used in high-end Android devices have helped, but the pixels are still identifiable when the screen is magnified.

Full HD and lower resolution displays look even worse, and this has a negative impact on your experience.

Will Apple take full advantage of Furion?

We have no doubt Furion will make its way into future A-series processors. Imagination says that the architecture has already been licensed and will begin appearing in mobile devices by 2018, and you can be sure Apple will be keen to get its hands on it first.

But it seems unlikely the company will take full advantage of its abilities. While we will certainly see even greater iOS games, and perhaps even virtual reality on iPhone as recent rumors have suggested, it’s unlikely we’ll see a 4K iPhone any time soon.

Despite being one of the first to push high-resolution screens with the iPhone 4’s Retina display, Apple has shied away from increasing pixel density in recent years. Place the iPhone 7 next to almost any mid- to high-end Android and its display looks disappointing in comparison.

If Apple does go out out on VR with a future iPhone, it’s possible its stance on insanely sharp screens will change. Just don’t get your hopes up.

Via: PC World