Apple could start using Imagination GPUs again for iPhones and beyond

Ewdison Then - Jan 1, 2020, 8:46 pm CST
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Apple could start using Imagination GPUs again for iPhones and beyond

Apple disrupted the status quo when it started making its own chips for its mobile devices. That was true not just for Qualcomm and its processors or Intel and its LTE modem but even for Imagination and its mobile graphics chips. The latter, however, seemed to follow in Qualcomm’s footsteps and engaged in a legal battle with Apple. Now Apple and Imagination have apparently made up but also raises questions about what the future may hold.

Once upon a time, Imagination and its PowerVR were the household name when it came to graphics in mobile devices, especially phones. Over time, its market share dwindled but was largely kept afloat by Apple’s use of the technology in its iPhones. That changed in 2017 when Apple announced that it would be making its own GPUs as well, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

That announcement naturally meant Apple was dropping Imagination as a partner. The latter even blamed Apple for its sharp decline in revenue and filed a complaint about the sudden termination of their deal. To make matters worse, Apple has reportedly poached Imagination employees to work on its own mobile graphics chips.

Now the two have apparently settled their differences even before things got messy. Imagination announced that their agreement with Apple has been changed from “multi-year, multi-use license” to “multi-year license”. Furthermore, that agreement gives Apple access to a “wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property”.

The terse and cryptic announcement naturally leaves the matter open to the imagination, no pun intended. The company just announced a new IMG A-Series GPU tech that it claims is the fastest in the market to date and it could very well be in the next iPhones. The wording, however, does also suggest that Apple may be cooking up something that will need more than just smartphone GPUs, possibly to power its AR glasses or even ARM-based MacBooks.


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