More pizzaz, gore and even physics for phones/PDAs with Imagination's new PowerVR chips

Las Vegas (NV) - The days of playing simple games like Pac-Man and DigDug on your mobile phone may be over with Imagination Technologies' new PowerVR technology. At the recently completed Consumer Electronic Show, the company showed off several game demons on their upcoming SGX 535 technology which will power upcoming graphics chips for mobile phones and PDAs.

During our demo at CES, we were shown the PowerVR SGX prototype chip working on an accelerator board in a regular desktop computer. Company reps ran the Quake III and 3DMark demos at 640X480 resolution to a desktop monitor to demo the speed of the chip. Both demos ran quite fast, definitely fast enough for decent gameplay on a mobile phone or PDA. However we did notice that some characters lacked detailed texture shading that we are so used to on desktop computers. In Imagination's defense, such lack of shading might not be noticeable on smaller phone/PDA screens.

Imagination Technologies is quite a bit different than other major graphics companies like ATi and Nvidia because it develops the software code and then looks for third-party manufacturers to develop the actual chip. As a result much of the performance, power and other technical specs are out of Imagination's control. However, company reps predict the final chips could have fillrate performance of 200 to 1200 million pixels/sec and up to 13.5 million polygons/sec.

Company engineers claimed that final SGX-powered chips would have plenty of graphics power and will eventually aim them at the laptop and desktop markets. They even hinted that future phones and pdas could have hardware-accelerated physics. "You can definitely run physics on the SGX, but it might not be the most prudent thing to do," said one engineer.