New year, new Apple … and an agreement with former GPU chip supplier Imagination Technologies. That’s according to a brief announcement from the British chipmaker.
The development comes after months of public disputes between the two companies, Imagination employees being poached by Apple, and Imagination being sold to new owners.
Apple warned Imagination in 2017 that it would stop relying on its graphics processing units used in iPhones and iPads within two years. Apple later delivered its first custom GPU as part of its A11 chip inside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in 2018.
Payments from Apple to Imagination dramatically decreased after the shift. The arrangement before the two companies ending was also the source of much public drama.
Imagination later filed a formal complaint against Apple over its deal ending, blaming Apple for its performance in an annual report. Apple described Imagination’s characterizations as misleading while hiring Imagination employees to work for Apple’s GPU team in the same community.
Imagination was forced to put itself up for sale after losing Apple’s business. Canyon Bridge, a Silicon Valley-based firm reportedly funded by Chinese authorities, later bought Imagination.
The move didn’t go without raising security and public trust concerns.
So what’s changed? Good question. What we know so far comes from an announcement made by Imagination Technologies:
Imagination Technologies (“Imagination”) announces that it has replaced the multi-year, multi-use license agreement with Apple, first announced on February 6, 2014, with a new multi-year license agreement under which Apple has access to a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for license fees.
That’s all we know so far without an accompanying announcement from Apple.
One clue over what may have changed could be Imagination’s newly announced IMG A-Series GPU which claims to be the fastest GPU IP to date. Imagination has said that the first Systems-on-Chips with its IMG A-Series GPUs will hit the market this year.
Could this mean Apple will rely on Imagination GPUs once again or opt for the licensed chips in other categories beyond iPhone — like the long-rumored augmented reality headset?
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