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Apple investment ‘Imagination Technologies’ ships new PowerVR Series7 GPUs

The British chip company behind the iPhone and iPad’s graphics technology—and much of the industry—has come out with its next-gen GPU technology and it looks strong. Could this company be the better target for Apple to acquire next rather than AMD?

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Imagination Technologies (IMG.L), a British silicon chip design company and leading supplier of graphics technology for mobile devices, has announced its PowerVR Series7 GPUs for a wide range of mobile devices—including Apple devices.

Up to 1.5 TeraFLOPS and Hardware Tessellation

The new PowerVR Series 7 GPU architecture is designed for the broadest range of next-generation products, from wearables, automotive, mobile and consumer electronics, up to high-performance GPU compute.

Key new features in Series 7 include full hardware virtualization and support for hardware tessellation—important components for advanced graphics-intensive applications, the kind being imagined and developed for future iPads, including the rumored 12 inch iPad Pro.

Says Jon Peddie, president, Jon Peddie Research: “With PowerVR Series7, Imagination is offering advanced new features such as hardware tessellation that will enable the company to make aggressive inroads into a broad range of new markets. With virtualization in the new cores, Imagination is looking beyond providing powerful graphics and compute performance toward providing even more value in helping to secure their customers’ SoCs.”

The new Series 7 XT family will take performance of Imagination’s GPUs up to 1.5 TFLOPs, ideal for next generation set-top boxes, gaming consoles, 3D gaming and GPU compute.  The new Series 7 XT and XE GPUs achieve up to a 60 percent performance increase on the latest industry standard benchmarks compared to equivalent configurations in the PowerVR Series 6 family of mobile GPUs.

Apple’s Investment and Rumors to Acquire

Apple reportedly owns roughly 10 percent of Imagination Technologies, which has historically been the supplier of GPU IP in Apple’s A-series chips. Back in the spring of this year Ashaf Eassa of The Motley Fool wrote that among investors in AMD there have been pretty continual discussions of Apple buying AMD for, mostly, its graphics chip expertise and talent.

Indeed, Apple has been searching in LinkedIn posts for new employees with expertise in mobile graphics IP development. And they have already wooed over AMD talent to build what is a growing and impressive GPU IP team. Eassa, however, makes the strong case that picking up AMD for Apple would be somewhat foolish and that with its investment in Imagination Technologies, that company may be the smarter investment should Apple feel that it needs to go that way. He writes:

“Picking up the rest of the company – which is valued at $877 million – would be significantly cheaper and more useful to Apple than purchasing AMD would be. Also, as Imagination is part of the AMD “HSA Foundation,” buying AMD would not give Apple any “dibs” on this more powerful programming paradigm.”

To learn more about the latest from Imagination Technologies visit them online here.

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