Imagination updates mobile 3D chip

3GSM: Imagination is making it easier for programmers to move 3D applications and games from the PC to a mobile phone

UK-based Imagination Technologies is to support the OpenGL ES standard in its graphics-acceleration hardware for mobile phones, making it easier for developers to create 3D applications and games for mobile devices, the company said on Monday.

Imagination, with its PowerVR technology, is competing with Nvidia, ATI and others for the mobile-phone market, and is expected by many to become a major platform for 3D games. PowerVR, earlier used in Sega's Dreamcast gaming console, was designed to minimise memory bandwidth, which gives an advantage in embedded devices.

Imagination's PowerVR MBX core, designed with industry-leading chip designer ARM, has been adopted by many phone makers and will Also on Monday, Imagination said Japanese chipmaker Renesas has produced a chip aimed at the in-car information systems, using Imagination's 3D acceleration engine. The Renesas SH7770 will be used for such applications as car navigation, and will begin sampling in May. Imagination has joined Renesas' SH-Mobile Consortium, supporting those who develop software, hardware and handsets based on Renesas' mobile chips.

Five of Imagination's chip-making partners are displaying products at 3GSM, including Texas Instruments and ARM, the company said. In the mobile 3D world, Imagination is somewhat ahead of Nvidia and ATI, which both make high-profile graphics acceleration chips for PCs; ATI, for example, begins shipping its mobile 3D chips this quarter, while Imagination's chips have been available for months. Both ATI and Nvidia support OpenGL ES, and both also make 2D graphics accelerators for mobiles.