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Today's revelation that the Samsung Galaxy S IV will sport a PowerVR SGX544MP3 graphics chip took many by surprise. One of the big reasons for that is the fact that all previous iterations of Samsung’s Exynos chipset (the chipset that’s inside the Galaxy S IV) utilized ARM’s Mali series of GPUs and many were expecting that the Galaxy S IV would also sport a Mali GPU. The other reason is that Apple has been using PowerVR for a while now to power the iPhone and iPad and the prospect of both Apple and Samsung releasing high-end devices powered by the same GPU (or at least the same series) is tantalizing.
Now, all of this might be a moot point if Samsung decides to move away from PowerVR after the Galaxy S IV. After all, it seems highly likely that one of the main factors that made Samsung opt for a PowerVR GPU instead of ARM Mali is that the upcoming Mali 628 GPU wasn’t yet ready for implementation. Also, this would only matter to Indian consumers if Samsung launches the Galaxy S IV with the Exynos 5 Octa chipset in it (which we are expecting it to), rather than the Galaxy S IV with the Snapdragon 600 chipset as that utilizes Qualcomm’s own Adreno 330 GPU.
If the Galaxy S IV spec-sheet does signify that Samsung will begin relying on PowerVR for most of its high-end devices, then, at least graphically, it would become a whole lot easier to ascertain the performance differences between future iterations of the iPhone and the Galaxy S.
So, Where Does the Galaxy S IV Stand?
According to an Anandtech story, the Galaxy S IV can be expected to outperform the iPhone 5 in terms of graphics since the PowerVR SGX544MP3 GPU running inside it is a better performer than the SGX543MP3 inside the Apple smartphone. If we had to roughly extrapolate the performance difference, we would say that, optimally, the GPU inside the Galaxy S IV should be capable of double the performance of the iPhone 5’s GPU.
If we compare the hardware of the Galaxy S IV with the 4th generation iPad, the Apple tablet should be able to give about 30% better performance than the Galaxy S IV. This is mainly because the SGX 554MP4 GPU inside the iPad 4th gen is capable of 71.6 GFLOPS (Giga Floating-point Operations Per Second) while the Samsung’s SGX 544MP4 is capable of around 51.1 GFLOPS. This still puts the Galaxy S IV ahead of all other Apple mobile devices including the iPad 3.
What the Future Holds
The next generation of graphics chips from PowerVR, called Series 6 (codenamed: Rogue) is expected this year and we’re not sure if the iPhone 5S (or whatever Apple calls the iPhone launched this year) will use it. On the other hand, the Mali 628 should also be out very soon, and Samsung could consider using it in this year’s variant of the Galaxy Note.
Whatever the case, we can expect mobile graphics to take a massive jump this year.