Amid fight with Apple, Imagination's Series8XT GPU faces challenges

Imagination introduces the PowerVR Series8XT GPU GT8525, but don't expect Apple to tweak it for the next iPhone

The graphics processor in Apple's upcoming iPhone could have been based on Imagination's new PowerVR Series8XT GT8525. Instead, the two vendors are locked in an open battle, and Imagination is threatening legal action against Apple, which is developing a homegrown GPU.

The last few months haven't been smooth for Imagination Technologies, which this month said it was planning to sell its MIPS and Ensigma processor businesses. Apple likely won't be a customer for the new Series8XT GPU, which is based on the Furian architecture. But the company's PowerVR GPUs are used in many low-cost and mid-range phones.

The GT8525 is targeted at high-end smartphones, automotive computers, set-top boxes, and smart devices. It is the first new GPU design in the Series8XT line, succeeding the Series7XT, which powers graphics in Apple's iPhone 7. 

Imagination is now building a business around PowerVR graphics processor designs, and that makes the GT8525 critical to the company's future. It represents the company's top-performing GPU design at a time when high-end GPUs are becoming more important in computing devices. GPUs are handling applications like computer vision, gaming, and artificial intelligence.

As GT8525 GPU design is built for high-end mobile gaming and virtual reality. It supports 4K video, so the mobile headset experience is improved. It also includes tweaks to bring machine learning on board mobile devices.

For cars, it is aimed primarily at infotainment systems but will also help assist autonomous driving when a driver remains at the wheel. Companies like Nvidia are boasting their GPUs can help build completely autonomous cars, but Imagination is keeping its expectations modest.

PowerVR cores, based on the Furian architecture, deliver up to a 35 percent improvement in performance from older GPUs. Gaming performance improvements could measure from 70 to 90 percent, though the performance may vary based on core designs.

The GPU has a shader processing unit and system level blocks surrounding it. The GPU design has a new instruction set architecture, a faster pipeline, and processing optimizations that make it faster. The GPU supports Vulcan, OpenCL, and other key APIs for gaming and application development.

Device makers can license the GT8525 now, meaning it may appear in smartphones soon. However, Apple's decision to step away from PowerVR is a loss for Imagination, and it raises questions about how many companies will adopt GT8525.

Apple was the anchor of Imagination's PowerVR. Other GPUs, like ARM's Mali and Qualcomm's Adreno, are emerging as challengers in mobile devices.

Imagination no longer has "the lead in mobile graphics that they had a few years ago," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Imagination has gained some business with mobile chipmaker MediaTek. In the end, if PowerVR GPUs are cheaper than rivals, Imagination has a chance to succeed.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?