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The maker of the graphics chips in the successful Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is continuing its attach on ARM, as Vivante has launched its Vega series graphics chip technology for mobile devices based on the Android and Chrome operating systems.
Much like ARM, Vivante licenses its chip architecture in the form of cores to other chip makers, who take the cores and design full chips around them for a variety of applications. Also like ARM, Vivante has targeted its chip architecture at low-power applications, and that feature has become more important over time as battery life becomes a key issue in mobile devices. But Vivante has a big rival in Imagination Technologies, whose designs were used in 525 million chips last year.
But Vivante prides itself on designing what it calls the world’s smallest, fastest, and coolest graphics and compute cores for battery-efficient devices. It believes that its chips will be used in everything from wearable computing devices to streaming TV dongles, not to mention tablets and smartphones. Vivante says Vega-based chips can run at over 1Ghz but still consume a small amount of power. Vivante says six of the top 10 mobile device makers plan on using Vega. Among Vivante’s 50 licensees is Marvell, a big chip maker that targets a variety of consumer markets such as smartphones in Asia.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Vivante is already used in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. But now the company is targeting its OpenGL ES 3.0-compatible Vega GPUs at mass market Android and Chrome devices. Those devices can have screens of any size.
“Combined with the trend of embedding visual intelligence into all products regardless of form factor, size or shape, the GPU is at the epicenter of these market trends and the driver for product differentiation,” said Jon Peddie, the president of Jon Peddie Research and an analyst for graphics and multimedia. “The GPU vendor that can deliver the most complete solution in an optimized package will win. Looking at the Vega product line, Vivante has an opportunity to hit the sweet spot for mass market manufacturers by combining API compatibility with performance and design flexibility in a small silicon package.”
“Our goal when defining this new mass market product line was to enhance user experience on any device by accelerating the adoption of the latest visually stunning” graphics features, said Wei-Jin Dai, Vivante president and CEO. “The initial product rollout of Vega was in the hugely successful Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 [Vega-Lite], which doubled graphics performance of its predecessor in half the die area.”
The company has 150 engineers and was founded in 2004. It has raised $15 million to date, with the last funding in 2007.