Apple working on its own graphics chips for future iPhones, cuts ties with Imagination Technologies

Apple working on its own graphics chips for future iPhones, cuts ties with Imagination Technologies

Shares in British chip designer Imagination Technologies plummeted by nearly 70%, after Apple said that it would stop licensing the company's technology. The news broke out today, following a statement from the UK-based firm which reads that Cupertino will be “reducing its future reliance on Imagination’s technology" as it is “working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products”.

The latest developments are an absolute disaster for Imagination Technologies, as about 50% of the company's revenues come from Apple. Cupertino has been a key investor in the firm since 2008 and is also one of its largest shareholders, owning an 8.2% stake. The tech giant was even really close to buying Imagination a year ago, but ultimately opted against the move.

According to the statement, Tim Cook & Co. will stop using Imagination's products in 15 to 24 months time, which means that we might see an iPhone with an entirely Apple-designed chipset as early as 2018. However, the British GPU maker is skeptical that Cupertino can actually produce a graphics chip without infringing any of its patents or intellectual property:


This indicates that we're likely too see a huge patent dispute between the two companies in the future, provided that Apple isn't working on an entirely new graphics architecture. Regardless, the blow to Imagination Technologies looks almost terminal – the firm was worth about $956 million before the plunge, while its current valuation is less than $312.45 million.

source: Imagination Technologies via MacRumors

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87 Comments

1. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Since GPUs are scalable, Apple is mostly doing this to pay less license fees to imagination rather than due to performance reasons(like with CPUs). They have to pay over $75m each year.

8. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

If they make a big apple A10 soc with 45 watt tdp for its mac , taht would be interesting..

17. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

It won't be, since Intel's chips will absolutely destroy it. Performance will be barely any better than A10 and it will get owned in tasks like rendering or any number-crunching due to the abysmal 128-bit SIMD compared to 512 bit from Intel and AMD designs. Apple chips rule in their own little niche, with software optimized for them and taking advantage of the fixed-function pipelines they provide for specific tasks. Once you move to x86 with general coding, things get a lot nastier.

25. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

Too much speculation, Tyrion. Let's wait and see what Apple creates before assuming Intel will destroy Apple's chips. Besides, Apple has has reliable GPU performance that only further excels when working in concert with iOS.

30. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Tyrion is right. ios is not an x86 OS. Dont compare thing you dont understand Lebron.

32. kiko007

Posts: 7491; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

"Dont compare thing you dont understand Lebron" You are the last person here who should be saying that, Mr.MyLGcanconquertheEarthinaday!

49. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

kiko007 If you are jaleous thats i have a great device thats for much lower cost give performance similar to your beloved iphone 7 its not my fault :) Still i know computers even more than mobile so dont go down thats road. mobile soc are a joke compared to real desktop processor ect.

46. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Dude, you have no idea what you're talking about. Besides, we are talking about CPUs on the market now, not something out of our imagination. We are not talking about GPUs here.

34. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

As a matter of fact, the a9x barely reaches a 2015 m3 performance, beats it some very specific test while looses at most. I totally agree with you, x86 is not a viable solution for any laptop PC/Mac. It's just not scalable enough at higher clock speeds or performance.

56. sgodsell

Posts: 6895; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

First of all Tyron you left out power. Speed Intel has, but they still suck for power consumption. If they had a great balance then we could see a lot more mobile devices with Intel chips in them. Even Intel with their modem chips can't compete. Look at the latest iPhone 7 has a Intel LTE modem that is cat 9. Yet half the iPhone 7s have Qualcomm modems which support cat 11 LTE. But Apple restricted everyone to the speed of what Intel's modem could handle. Now when it comes to the GPU Apple is far behind the curve right now. Or we would have seen iPhones with QHD displays by now. Especially when smartphones with QHD displays started to arrive on the market back in 2014. Now we are starting to see 4k displays arrive on smartphones as well as wireless VR headsets that are arriving in the fall. With one that just arrived back in January of this year. Apple has been sitting on their laurrels too long.

58. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

We are talking about macbook processors with 45W TDP, not mobile processors. Which makes your comment kinda pointless.

66. AlikMalix unregistered

Don't offscreen comparisons of mobile GPUs put iPhones on top by a huge margin. I've seen graphically intensive games on different mobiles - and iPhones always render all the polygons colors and details much better than competition. I remember comparing my 5s to a note 5 for real racing 3 - the paint schemes were sharper on my 5s, and no missing poligons of the track or objects in the distance, unlike the Note 5 that had 3 times the processing power - was lacking detail in the distance and textures overall. Compare to LG G4 (which just like note 5, is also newer phone than 5s) the game lagged like crazy. I know these are older phones, but that's how its best to compare them visually - with games updated for newer hardware - older I Phones tend to run these more graphic games better than newer flagship android devices Give me a break.

80. sgodsell

Posts: 6895; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Oh, yeah off screen comparisons are only used for benchmarks. Everyone and their aunt and uncle knows that Apples iPhones are the lowest resolution flagship priced devices on the market. Even the latest iPhone 7 is only pushing 1 million pixels, compared to all the other flagships that are using QHD displays or higher, or basically they are pushing 4 times the number of pixels compared to an iPhone 7. The iPhone 5s is only pushing 727 thousand pixels. So that means the eve an older G4 is pushing more than 5 times the number of pixels compared to an iPhone 5,5s,SE. Is the iPhone SE 5 times faster than a G4? Not even close. If you had half a brain AlikMalix, then you would know that Apple is a lot of smoke and mirrors. If Apple has really fast SoCs with really fast GPUs, then Apple would have used higher resolution displays. Apple has you and many others fooled. kyokojap (.) myweb (.) hinet (.) net (/) gpu_gflops

82. AlikMalix unregistered

Hey bud, so what was your point about offscreen? Because my point was - this puts all devices on same level - without the need to push extra pixels - iPhone still wins. I don't want/need any device to push higher pixels unless it's pentile pixel arrangement - then yes you need higher resolution to look just as sharp. My iPhone is sharp - it's not blurry nor pixilated. Extra resolution will only eat up more battery and recourses. What was your point again?

83. kiko007

Posts: 7491; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Don't mind him. He's one of those "I need an escape" VR losers, resolution wars is all he knows. Bruh repeats the same exact nonsense in every benchmark article, so much so, that I'm genuinely concerned as to his interactions with said VR platform.

84. AlikMalix unregistered

Seriously, VR is nowhere near the maturity that I'm willing to invest into right now.

86. sgodsell

Posts: 6895; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Well that is expected from you (AlikMalix) and kiko007, especially since using an iPhone would naturally give you the worst VR experience with such a low resolution display. It would turn anyone off of VR if it was their first time. Besides that iPhone sensors are old and slow in comparison to many Android smartphones that give you a faster and more accurate sensors, so they can give you much better head tracking than any iPhone. But since all you use is iPhone, then all you to know is jack. With over 30 million VR users this year, and the vast majority of those users will be mobile VR users.

87. AlikMalix unregistered

Are you 10 years old? What makes you think that I didn't try VR on both android and iOS. It has great potential if coupled with AR but right now it's overhyped testing stage. Give it a rest, your BS post isnt gonna sell me an android phone.

2. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Gaming on a Mac is a joke. Maybe Apple want to improve their Macbook gaming capabilities so hipsters can play Angry Birds smoothly on 60fps.

3. nithyakr

Posts: 161; Member since: Jun 20, 2014

Apple doesn't use Imagination GPUs inside macs. They use ATI/Nvidia or Intel based GPUs.. This article is about GPU on the iPhones and iPads. And comparing the gaming with Android phones and tablets, they are on par.. And if Apple could ace the GPUs like they did with the their A series CPUs, it would certainly beat the competition.

16. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

This is great news since PowerVR 8XT supposedly isn't going to be in products until 2018 Apple would have been stuck with PowerVR 7XT Plus for another year I'm excited to see the A11's GPU vs Adreno 540 vs Mali-G71 MP20

36. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Maybe you have forgotten Apple always customizes the hell out of their GPU, 10nm+10 core 7XT would still beat the s**t out all GPU's out there, while the iPad could use 18core designs as opposed to 12 cores right now. Who knows? Apple pretty much never lost in their GPU department

40. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"Apple pretty much never lost in their GPU department" Is this for real? Qualcomm's Adreno has always beaten Apple's GPUs for ages now.

52. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Zunaidahmed. go back to your cave even 20 core its would not be scrap compared to high end nvidia or ati video card. You guys are delusional.

72. k4ever

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 08, 2014

Maybe that is because Apple "cheats" in the GPU department. It is not hard for a GPU to excel when attached to a lower resolution screen. Just like it is not hard for a four cylinder engine to seem more powerful against an eight cylinder engine when that four cylinder is inside of a Honda Civic and the eight cylinder is inside Chevy Suburban and the only thing we are measuring is 0-60 mph times.

78. mikehunta727 unregistered

Except there is something called off screen benchmarks where you can set the resolution higher then the device's resolution so your post is not true or accurate

85. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

And there is something called race to exit where the GPU in iPhones will run good as much as they don't run for too long before a temp throttle kicks in (typically a short benchmark). The sustained performance gived in a sustained way iPhones loosing againts competition.

76. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Apple lost to the 6 month older 820 in sustained GPU performance just last year

42. mikehunta727 unregistered

I think the A11 GPU very comfortably surpasses both

77. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I think thats likely too Unless Qualcomm and Samsung release another SoC in Q3

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