Following confirmation that Imagination Technologies is going to lose its biggest GPU customer – Apple – in the coming year or two, many have wondered what would become of one of the UK’s last legacy semiconductor companies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Imagination Technology has now put itself up for sale and already says that it has received interest from potential buyers.
Imagination Technologies develops a range of semiconductor technologies and licenses them to chip designers, ranging from microprocessors and GPUs to networking, DSP, and video hardware. While Imagination may be well known for its 2013 acquisition of the MIPS architecture, which is supported by the Android operating system, it’s the company’s range of PowerVR GPUs that have had the biggest impact on the smartphone business.
PowerVR GPUs have appeared in every Apple iPhone to date and have seen use in a number of SoCs from other vendors too.
PowerVR technology has powered the graphics component inside every Apple iPhone to date and have seen use in a number of SoCs from other vendors too. Over the years this has included some of Samsung’s earlier Exynos chips for its flagship smartphones, as well as MediaTek’s MT8173 and the Rockchip RK3368 that have powered a number of Android tablets. Still, Apple has been Imagination’s largest customer and makes up approximately 50 percent of the company’s current revenue. However, this arrangement is coming to an end in the next 13 to 22 months.
It’s said that Apple is planning its own GPU design for future iPhones and last month Imagination announced it had started a dispute resolution procedure with Apple over licensing payments. The company is concerned that Apple won’t be able to produce its own technology without infringing on its patents. Following this news, Imagination Technologies put its MIPS and Ensigma networking businesses up for sale, but now the entire company is on the market.
Apple had been in very early acquisition talks with Imagination Technologies last year, but it’s not know if the company is still looking at a purchase. With bids already coming in, it may not be too long until we find out who has bought one of the UK’s few remaining semiconductor companies.