Imagination Technologies is the company behind the PowerVR graphics used in iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs. While Imagination has other customers, Apple is the biggest… and Apple has indicated it will stop licensing tech from Imagination, which may explain why Imagination’s stock price is down more than 60 percent today.

Imagination says Apple has notified the company that Apple will stop using Imagination’s intellectual property starting sometime between 15 and 24 months from now.

According to Imagination, Apple says it’s working on its own graphics technology which will replace PowerVR in upcoming products.

Interestingly, Imagination claims “it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU from basics without infringing on its intellectual property rights,” and “accordingly Imagination dos not accept Apple’s assertions.”

In other words, Imagination will be watching what Apple does closely to see if there’s any chance the company can either sue or negotiates patent licensing deals to ensure some form of ongoing revenue.

Of course, it’s not like Apple doesn’t have some expertise in chip design. While the company licenses intellectual property from ARM, Apple develops its own ARM-based CPUs which are known for outperforming rival processors from Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, and others. But up until now, Apple has left the GPU design to Imagination.

via Bloomberg

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5 replies on “Apple to develop iPhone, iPad graphics processors in-house, will drop Imagination Technologies”

  1. Having an iPhone I was always waiting for the next great thing they did. Next years phone will have this, the S version will finally have that.

  2. Apparently Apple owns 10% of Imagination and had tried to buy it out a year ago. After that didn’t go through, Apple allegedly poached some Imagination engineers.

    Now you have this happening. I wonder if this will end with Apple getting Imagination for a discount. The more cynical might say that was the plan .

    1. Shareholders would sue if Apple tried to buy at the current price. I heard that Apple was just paying licensing fees and doing the vast majority of hardware optimizations in-house. The execs really screwed the engineers by not taking the buyout. If the execs had half a brain they would start retention bonuses. Soon another company will buy them for nothing, just like what they did to MIPS. Poetic justice.

  3. Re: PowerVR GPU’s cost Apple very little. There are reports Apple are paying imagination some US$60M per year. Even for Apple that is a lot of money for something that could be done inhouse, paying for quite a few engineers and lawyers.

  4. Pretty much no-one can develop a GPU without stepping on the patents of someone else, all of this has been figured out for quite a while now.

    What is interesting is that Apple feels the need to be a special snowflake, the PowerVR GPU’s cost Apple very little but others could use them too so that’s pretty much fueling it. There’s no reason to pursue a custom bespoke GPU design otherwise.

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