Apple ditching Imagination Technology, developing its own custom graphics processor

According to the Financial Times (which requires a subscription), Apple plans to stop using Imagination Technologies intellectual property within two years, ending its royalty payments. 

The tech giant is working on its own custom graphics architecture to control more of the core technology, in the same way that it already architects custom CPU silicon designs, the article adds. 9to5Mac says this suggests that Apple will be using a custom GPU stack in the Apple A12 chip.

I find the move interesting as, in March, Imagination Technologies unveiled its next-generation PowerVR Furian architecture, an entirely new GPU [graphics processing unit] architecture designed for the evolved graphics and compute needs of next-generation consumer devices. I felt we’d see the in 2018 iPhones and iPads. 

Imagination Technologies creates and licenses processor solutions for graphics, video and vision processing, general purpose and embedded processing and multi-standard communications. The company’s range of silicon IP (intellectual property) includes the key processing blocks needed by customers to create the Systems on Chips (SoC) that power electronic devices.

In December 2008 Apple picked up a 3.6% stake in Imagination Technologies. There were rumors that Apple would buy the company. It never happened, but several Imagination Technologies’ employees have gone to work at Apple, including the company’s former chief operating officer, John Metcalfe, and engineers Dave Roberts, Jonathan Redshaw, Simon Nield, and Benjamin Bowman.

After today’s announcement, Imagination Technologies’ stock plummeted in wake of the news, falling by 70% to eight-year lows.