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Apple's iOS 4.3 beta suggests next-gen GPU for upcoming iPad, iPhone

Evidence hinting that Apple is preparing to upgrade the graphics processor on its iOS devices to the OpenCL-capable PowerVR SGX543 from Imagination Technologies has been found in the iOS 4.3 beta.

Apple has been using Imagination Technologies' older PowerVR SGX535 GPU since the iPhone 3GS, eventually including the GPU on the custom Apple A4 System on a Chip (SoC).

In 2008, AppleInsider broke the news on a secret licensing deal with Imagination. Apple was also revealed to have purchased a 3 percent stake in the firm. In 2009, Apple increased its holdings in the company to 9.5 percent.

MacRumors reported Friday that references to the next-generation PowerVR SGX543 have been found in the iOS 4.3 beta. According to the report, the upcoming version of iOS contains a driver bundle for the next-generation SGX543.

The SGX543 can push 35 million polygons per second at 200 Mhz and 1 billion pixels per second and is capable of handling Apple's OpenCL standard. The GPU also supports multi-core configurations.

Apple released the beta version of iOS 4.3 on Wednesday, with support for Personal Hotspots and a "Find My Friends" feature.

Reports on Apple's plans for the future versions of the iPad and iPhone have picked up steam this week. Earlier Friday, a Hong Kong-based newspaper reported that the iPhone 5 could sport a new Apple-developed processor, reportedly called the A8, and a Qualcomm baseband.

Engadget is reporting that Apple plans to release a dual GSM-CDMA iPhone and an iPad with a high-resolution screen, front and rear cameras and an SD card slot. According to the report, Apple's next-generation devices will sport a new A5 CPU (Cortex A9-based, multi-core chip).