Apple partner Imagination announces new plan to take on ARM

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Imagination Technologies, the mobile graphics chip company of which Apple is part owner, is set to announce a partnership with fellow chipmaker MIPS Technologies in an effort to counter competitor ARM Holdings.



According to EETimes, the partnership will be announced this week at the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley. As first reported by AppleInsider in 2008, Apple purchased a 3 percent stake in Imagination Technologies, and last year the iPhone maker increased its share to 9.5 percent. Imagination Technologies is responsible for the PowerVR graphics technology inside the iPhone and iPod touch.



Imagination's forthcoming partnership with MIPS Technologies aims to help customers who license chip designs from both firms. While MIPS processors are often found in set top boxes, the company has reportedly launched an initiative to move into the handset space. The agreement will not involve the sharing of intellectual property between the two companies -- yet.



Art Swift, vice president of marketing for MIPS, said such a partnership could happen in the future, with co-development between the two companies. But for now, the non-exclusive marketing alliance aims to help offer support to customers that offer system-on-a-chip designs using processing cores from both companies. Swift said that a "series of announcements" between the two companies are forthcoming.



While Apple is a part-owner of Imagination, it also is a licensee of ARM's chip designs, and has even been rumored to be eyeing the company for a potential purchase. However, those rumors were quickly downplayed by the CEO of ARM, who said he saw little benefit in Apple, or anyone, buying his company.



The partnership between Imagination and MIPS was described by EETimes as a "shot across the bow" to competitor ARM. But Tony King-Smith, vice president of marketing for Imagination, said his company will continue to work with ARM and its licensees. He added that Imagination believes Apple will continue to utilize the PowerVR core in its future handsets.



Apple has been making moves in the chip industry in recent years, with recent evidence indicating that Apple purchased chip designer Intrinsity, which is believed to help build the speedy 1GHz A4 custom processor found inside the iPad. Apple also bought fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for $278 million in 2008.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    Well, isn't this interesting?
  • Reply 2 of 33
    Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    Popcorn please
  • Reply 4 of 33
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,190member
    More twists and turns than a welsh road.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    MIPS Technologies is one of those companies that never recovered from the 2000 internet bubble burst.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    This is fascinating, something big will happen in the coming years for Apple.
  • Reply 7 of 33
    serkolserkol Posts: 39member
    Does Apple interest in AMD has something to do with this? Could AMD design a better mobile graphics chip that would interest Apple?
  • Reply 8 of 33
    This may lead to fragmentation of iPhones if this goes where I think it may go.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    Not sure if Apple would purposefully solicit that many graphic chip vendors for their mobile devices, but they really should turn their focus on one or two partners to avoid different tech in their various products.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,569member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MySchizoBuddy View Post


    MIPS Technologies is one of those companies that never recovered from the 2000 internet bubble burst.



    Wow... that's for sure!



    Wonder if this is more of an "I'm not dead yet" thing or if they have some ideas for innovation...
  • Reply 11 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    This may lead to fragmentation of iPhones if this goes where I think it may go.



    If it's just the chipset were taking about, then there's nothing you should worry about. Look how Apple transitioned from ppc to x86 architectures. With their new LLVM compiler strategy, code can simply work on any hardware devices. With the upcoming IPhone OS 4 supporting LLVM, future applications can work optimally in future devices. Why do you think Apple is pushing developers to comply with 3.3.1? This isn't about 3rd party toolset but more to futureproofing their codebase. Just like Adobe's Carbon to Cocoa API fiasco.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,694member
    Imagination sells their cores to lots of companies including Intel. Nothing about this announcement says anything at all about Apple using MIPS cores in future devices. Frankly I'm not to sure MIPS will ever be able to catch up with ARM technology as it is.



    I just find it perplexing that an announcement like this generates almost a half dozen posts of hand wringing and fear that Apple will be using MIPS processors in the future. Maybe they will most likely not but the message says nothing about that. Imagination is an IP company, they don't make money unless they sell that IP to other companies.







    Dave
  • Reply 13 of 33
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,694member
    Imagination sells their cores to lots of companies including Intel. Nothing about this announcement says anything at all about Apple using MIPS cores in future devices. Frankly I'm not to sure MIPS will ever be able to catch up with ARM technology as it is.



    I just find it perplexing that an announcement like this generates almost a half dozen posts of hand wringing and fear that Apple will be using MIPS processors in the future. Maybe they will most likely not but the message says nothing about that. Imagination is an IP company, they don't make money unless they sell that IP to other companies.







    Dave
  • Reply 14 of 33
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Isn't anyone else very curious as to what the p.a. semi folk have been up to? Because there are no known facts of any involvement with current products...
  • Reply 15 of 33
    ilogicilogic Posts: 298member
    Apple is in the chip business now, prepare for some serious synergy induced "snappier" products...
  • Reply 16 of 33
    rtdunhamrtdunham Posts: 428member
    hmmm...I recently added to my ARM holdings--the rising ship theory of investment and all that. Now I wonder how this news will affect me. Maybe this is a tactic to help aapl in its rumored strategy of acquiring ARM?
  • Reply 17 of 33
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    This may lead to fragmentation of iPhones if this goes where I think it may go.



    Given Apple's amazing history of smooth platform migrations (MC68K->PPC32->PPC64->X86->X64), this won't be a problem if developers are all using Xcode.
  • Reply 18 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    More twists and turns than a welsh road.



    More twists then a politicians backbone.



    More twists and turns than my reason to the wife why I need an Ipad.



    Definitely some interesting stuff there.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    Which way will Apple side with? This is making my head spin in speculating what Apple's moves will be. Good times!
  • Reply 20 of 33
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    MIPS do have a 64-bit variant, which ARM doesn't currently have, although almost certainly is hard at work on for the next generation of ARM cores. With mobile phones coming with 512MB of memory this year, it's only a few years until they start hitting the 32-bit limit!



    Aside from that, there's nothing much more to read into this apart from a company working with another company for mutual benefit.
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