Both ARM and Imagination offer CPUs and GPUs. What difference does Imagination bring to the table? The distinction lies in the breadth of IP blocks the two companies offer, according to Imagination.
Beyond CPU and GPU cores, Imagination now offers a variety of IPs ranging from hardwired video encoder/decoder blocks (PowerVR video processing unit) and an Ensigma radio processing unit for WiFi to Bluetooth, digital, and analog TV/radio.
Imagination's other IPs include image signal processing (PowerVR ISP), a security block (Ensigma network processing unit), and an audio engine (MIPS MCU).
Currently, ARM offers no IPs for radio processing equivalent to Imagination's Ensigma.
Imagination believes it has an edge over its competitor by offering more IP blocks that, in theory, make it easy for chip vendors to shop for what they need and develop their own SoCs.
The point here is that Imagination isn't in the business of just pushing MIPS CPUs and PowerVR GPUs. Mobile isn't the only market Imagination is after, either. Other target markets include wearable and IoT devices, home entertainment, routers, home/enterprise networking, and automotive.
As Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research, told us, "Imagination is and wants to use any or all of its IP to win opportunities in these markets."
Against that backdrop, Imagination takes a long view in promoting MIPS CPUs.
The company also encourages a variety of business models, under which some chip vendors might just license individual IP blocks or opt for subsystem IPs. Vendors can take Imagination's platform offering. Some companies even ask Imagination to develop a complete SoC, in which case Imagination, through another outfit, does the job and gives a net list to its customer.
Next page: MIPS performance (CoreMark/MHz)