After failed takeover talks with Apple, Imagination Technologies sells 3% stake to state-owned Chin

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Tsinghua Unigroup International has purchased a 3 percent stake in Imagination Technologies, the company that builds graphics processors for Apple's custom A-series chips found in the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.




Apple had been in talks to potentially acquire Imagination, but the iPhone maker ultimately opted not to strike a deal. Following the breakdown in talks, Chinese state-owned company Tsinghua took a 3 percent stake in Imagination as of May 4.

Imagination Technologies has licensed high-performance graphics processor unit (GPU) designs, known as PowerVR graphics series, for use in Apple's A-series dating back to the original iPhone in 2007. Apple licenses the PowerVR series of GPUs and combines them with memory, logic and ARM-based CPU parts on to a single chip called a SoC or system-on-a-chip.

Though Apple and Imagination have worked together closely, a slowdown in smartphone sales has affected the company, prompting layoffs and restructuring earlier this year. By April, Apple was in talks to purchase Imagination, though the deal fell through.

In a rare move, Apple issued a statement admitting it had "some discussions" with Imagination, but that it did not "plan to make an offer for the company at this time." Apple already owns an 8.5 percent stake in the company, more than twice that of Tsinghua's new share.

Tsinghua's purchase translates to 8,370,032 total shares with 3 percent voting rights assigned. The Chinese state-owned company now has a share of Imagination almost equivalent to Intel's 5 percent.

As of December 2015, Imagination Technologies only had five primary investors: Baillie Gifford & Co., M&G Investment Management Ltd., Apple Inc., Newton Investment Management Ltd. and Majedie Asset Management Ltd.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    SnRaSnRa Posts: 65member
    For Imagination Technologies, it might not hurt going deeper into the Chinese market. Various Chinese SoC's use ARM's Mali GPU design, but a PowerVR GPU design can be just as competitive in the Android space, potentially offering higher performance and greater efficiency.  In terms of features, recent PowerVR GPU's can also support Android's newest API, Vulkan.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    The problem is that the Android market is mostly down market (except for Apple), while they're most lucrative products are up market.

    3% is pretty small, so not even sure why this is news.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,784member
    Is 3% enough to get their foot in the door to steal IP?
    edited May 2016 jony0anantksundaramoneof52cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 15
    jameskatt2jameskatt2 Posts: 720member
    It would be far better for Apple to buy AMD or nVidia.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    redstaterredstater Posts: 49member
    foggyhill said:
    The problem is that the smartphone market is mostly down market (except for Apple), while they're most lucrative products are up market.

    3% is pretty small, so not even sure why this is news.
    If by "down market" you mean devices that cost as much as an iPhone's 6 price of $599, that is not true and not even close. LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung and others combined sell many tens - well into the hundreds - of millions of their various flagship devices. Except that iPhones do not exclusively cost $599 anymore: the iPhone SE costs $399, similar to the Moto X and the Nexus 5X. So when you consider that the average selling price of an Android phone was $180 last year - and this average was brought down by a flood of cheap devices that sold in Asia, Africa and Latin America - then several hundreds of millions of devices that were $399 and up were among the 1.2 billion Android devices sold last year. Quite naturally, if the iPhone SE has this GPU, then any Android device that is anywhere near its price range - I would say $250 on up - would be a candidate to include this GPU also.

    But in any case, the new Android Vulkan API performs just fine on Mali GPUs, so long as they are 600 series or higher (the Mali 880 is the latest and is in the crop of flagship Android phones just released) and Google made a point of ensuring Vulkan performance on both high end and midrange Mali GPUs. So I doubt that Imagination will find very many takers for their products in the Android world, though making attempts to market them probably wouldn't hurt as you never know.
    SnRatechlovercnocbui
  • Reply 6 of 15
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,174member
    This country has no shame. 
  • Reply 7 of 15
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    redstater said:
    foggyhill said:
    The problem is that the smartphone market is mostly down market (except for Apple), while they're most lucrative products are up market.

    3% is pretty small, so not even sure why this is news.
    If by "down market" you mean devices that cost as much as an iPhone's 6 price of $599, that is not true and not even close. LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung and others combined sell many tens - well into the hundreds - of millions of their various flagship devices. Except that iPhones do not exclusively cost $599 anymore: the iPhone SE costs $399, similar to the Moto X and the Nexus 5X. So when you consider that the average selling price of an Android phone was $180 last year - and this average was brought down by a flood of cheap devices that sold in Asia, Africa and Latin America - then several hundreds of millions of devices that were $399 and up were among the 1.2 billion Android devices sold last year. Quite naturally, if the iPhone SE has this GPU, then any Android device that is anywhere near its price range - I would say $250 on up - would be a candidate to include this GPU also.

    But in any case, the new Android Vulkan API performs just fine on Mali GPUs, so long as they are 600 series or higher (the Mali 880 is the latest and is in the crop of flagship Android phones just released) and Google made a point of ensuring Vulkan performance on both high end and midrange Mali GPUs. So I doubt that Imagination will find very many takers for their products in the Android world, though making attempts to market them probably wouldn't hurt as you never know.
    Hey, bud, how much high end phones are they selling. Don't just crap out a number.
    Give me some stats and sources.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 8 of 15
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,596member
    It would be far better for Apple to buy AMD or nVidia.
    Not really. I hope Apple don't pull out. This is so close…

    latifbpam8449
  • Reply 9 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,628member
    This country has no shame. 
    ?

    What's objectionable about a company buying a stake in another company?
  • Reply 10 of 15
    thanks whoever wrote this, I wasn't aware 8.5 was more than two times 3, or that 3 was almost equivalent to 5. I'm 30 now but lack the basic maths skills to work this out on my own without having to be told it was true. 
    /s
    padding out an article much? I'm cool with being told the facts (apple has 8.5%, intel 5% stake etc.) but then to dumb it down to the level a 3year old can understand while attempting to maintain a tech-savvy language/dialogue is ridiculous imho. that's what I'd expect from cheap tabloid journalism, not a tech blog/site.

    maybe I woke on the wrong side of the bed this morning, easily irked today it seems :* .
  • Reply 11 of 15
    tangeytangey Posts: 21member
    Article is very badly researched.

    1) Imagination did not sell 3% of its company to Tsinghua, Tsinghua bought it on the open market.
    2) Intel does not own 5%, intel owns nothing, they got rid of their remainng holding in 2015.
    3) Tsinghua is a chinese goverment backed company, that was handed $47B by the government with an aim of becoming the 3rd largest chip producer in the world.
    4) Tsinghua has been knocked back previously in attempting to take significant stakes in US based semi companies.
    5) 3% is the the first level on the UK stock market that you have to disclose your holding.
    6) 3% is an insiginficant amount. However, basic maths tells you that to get above 3%, you have to go past 3 %, hence the announcement. I expect them to continue to stake build, and if they do, Apple will likely have to response. Apple does not want it's IOS GPU provider outside it's control

    read more here:
    http://www.cityam.com/240637/china-takes-stake-in-apple-chip-supplier-imagination-technologies

    edited May 2016
  • Reply 12 of 15
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,827member
    crowley said:
    foggyhill said:
    redstater said:
    If by "down market" you mean devices that cost as much as an iPhone's 6 price of $599, that is not true and not even close. LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung and others combined sell many tens - well into the hundreds - of millions of their various flagship devices. Except that iPhones do not exclusively cost $599 anymore: the iPhone SE costs $399, similar to the Moto X and the Nexus 5X. So when you consider that the average selling price of an Android phone was $180 last year - and this average was brought down by a flood of cheap devices that sold in Asia, Africa and Latin America - then several hundreds of millions of devices that were $399 and up were among the 1.2 billion Android devices sold last year. Quite naturally, if the iPhone SE has this GPU, then any Android device that is anywhere near its price range - I would say $250 on up - would be a candidate to include this GPU also.

    But in any case, the new Android Vulkan API performs just fine on Mali GPUs, so long as they are 600 series or higher (the Mali 880 is the latest and is in the crop of flagship Android phones just released) and Google made a point of ensuring Vulkan performance on both high end and midrange Mali GPUs. So I doubt that Imagination will find very many takers for their products in the Android world, though making attempts to market them probably wouldn't hurt as you never know.
    Hey, bud, how much fucking high end phones are they selling. Don't just crap out a number.
    Give me some fucking stats and sources or STFU.
    You're a real charmer aren't you?
    I think Foggyhill got confused by the post anyway. The OP didn't say only "high-end" phones could take advantage of the newer Vulcan API. Heck 600 or better series Mali processors have been used in Android phones since 2013, so they're even found in entry level ones.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,431moderator
    mcdave said:
    It would be far better for Apple to buy AMD or nVidia.
    Not really. I hope Apple don't pull out. This is so close…
    That's a reason why it would be good for Apple to get into making custom GPUs. In that video, they put a mid-level smartphone GPU, which is passively cooled with some fixed function hardware up against a general compute process on a GTX 980ti and it ends up being over 5x faster. The 980ti will be using 250W and the smartphone GPU around 5W max so 250x better performance per watt for that particular task. It doesn't matter that it's limited function when it's something important.

    Apple can engineer and manufacturer custom CPUs, a GPU is far less complex. They can put codec encoding in hardware for high-end film workflows. Raytracing for visual effects. They can wrap software APIs around the functions like Metal and have software developers hook into those. Adobe can hook After Effects into the custom raytracing hardware as well as Maxon, AutoDesk, BlackMagic etc and a Macbook Pro would be able to outperform a quad desktop GPU workstation without breaking a sweat.

    I wonder if Apple can convince Intel to do this. If Intel was willing to do this just for Apple, it's something that would keep people on Mac hardware. If you mostly depended on creative apps and you drop to 1/250th the speed by switching to a PC, there's no way you'd do that. It would slow down the Mac upgrade cycle after the first purchase but they'd be able to persuade more people to buy them. It could just be a separate $50 co-processor chip they throw into higher-end Macs with a fast connection to memory.

    Another thing they can add to a custom GPU is a way to prevent a single GPU locking up the display during compute tasks. It would be nice to have pre-emptive multi-tasking on GPUs like on CPUs. Even if they just designed multiple separate GPUs internally with a common memory storage, they can put separate tasks on each and if one locked up entirely, the display would still be running on the other and able to kill the process. Multi-driver GPUs would allow virtualization software to run GPU hardware natively alongside the main system.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    19831983 Posts: 1,224member
    "After failed take over talks with Apple" 

    I wonder why they failed? Apple and IT seem to be a good fit and ITs market cap is pocket change for Apple...why didn't they just buy it?
  • Reply 15 of 15
    peteraltpeteralt Posts: 155member
    It sounds to me that Apple may wish to invest in another GPU company now. What else is out there? Nvidia?
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