Imagination Technology, the company that provides GPUs to Apple's iPhones, wants to shake up the Android landscape by bringing high-quality VR experiences to low-end phones with a new GPU.
The company's latest PowerVR Series8XE Plus GPU will be installed in Android handsets priced between US $200 and $400.
Most VR-capable phones, like the ones supporting Google's DayDream platform, are expensive because of powerful GPUs and high-resolution screens. Cheap VR headsets like Google Cardboard can be used with inexpensive phones, but the experience is uneven.
The Series8XE Plus promises to bring better graphics to low-end phones. It can handle full HD video at 60 frames per second, a frame rate required for a good VR experience on mobile devices.
The GPU will appear in Android smartphones starting next year.
Beyond VR, the Series8XE Plus also improves mobile gaming and video experiences. The GPU is up to four times faster than its predecessor, the PowerVR Series8XE, particularly in mobile gaming, Imagination says.
The focus with Series8XE Plus was to improve the quality of pixels. Features like HDR (high-dynamic range) add depth to the quality of colors and pictures, and the new GPUs are built to render much better pixels.
Beyond gaming and video, the GPU is also targeted at visual computing. It supports image recognition and visual computing and works with machine-learning frameworks like Caffe and TensorFlow. That could make the GPU useful in cars, a market Imagination is targeting.