Apple’s iPad and iPhone graphics hardware supplier, Imagination Technologies of England, has snatched up Caustic Graphics, the maker of 3D technology for mobile devices in exchange for 27 million US dollars.
Caustic Graphics is the company behind the OpenRL SDK (software development kit), a cross-platform, industry-standard API focused on unique raytracing extensions built on top of the OpenGL standard and OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) APIs. Since Imagination Technologies supplies Apple with its technology in many iOS devices it is likely only a matter of time before the benefits of Caustic Graphics’ OpenRL reach future Apple devices. This will further propel Apple’s iPad and iPhone as both gaming and business-enterprise devices, particularly visual industries like medical imagining, engineering, scientific and architecture and construction.
Imagination and OpenRL
Apple is already a major investor in Imagination Technologies, a British fabless chip design company, holding nearly 10 percent of the company. The system-on-chip design of the Apple A4 processor in the iPhone 4 and iPad is reportedly based on the Imagination PowerVR SGX 535 GPU blueprint. It will be interesting to see if Apple stays with its current investment or further invest in Imagination.
OpenRL is a new proposed standard that aims to unify development of raytracing applications for software developers, which currently must program “to the metal” or accept GPU hardware “vendor lock-in” by using a limited specific subset of the hardware.
OpenRL works across platforms including Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, utilizes all OpenCL-based GPUs (eg: AMD/ATI, Nvidia, S3) and x86 CPUs simultaneously. The goal of OpenRL is to bring cinematic quality graphics to every day graphics display.
Last month Gizmodo wrote a brief piece about this acquisition as well.