ArsTechnica is reporting that Apple is in ‘advanced talks’ to acquire Imagination Technologies, makes of the PowerVR mobile GPU designs Apple licenses for its A9 and A9X SoCs. The company declined comment about any such acquisition of course. Apple began using Imagination Technologies GPUs since the Apple A4 chip. Rumors have been bubbling in recent years that Apple will eventually start designing its own mobile GPUs, in the same way it designs custom CPU silicon today. An acquisition of Imagination Technologies would be a clear signal the company is moving in that direction.
Although Apple’s A-series feature customized or tweaked PowerVR GPUs already, they are mostly based off the off-the-shelf designs. A buyout would mean Apple could take mobile GPU design fully in-house. Remember that Apple’s custom processor designed all started from the acquisition of PA Semi in 2008.
If true, the acquisition would be one of the largest Apple has ever made as a company: Imagination Technologies currently has a market capitalization of about 850 million dollars. Naturally, the market value has shot up almost 20% following the report of potential acquisition.
Naturally, Apple loves to control the important technologies and the customer experience in every way possible. Making its own custom GPUs is a logical step along that mission. Apple’s CPU designs have been widely praised for excellence, with Apple easily beating everyone else to 64-bit architectures with the iPhone 5s. The most recent releases, the A9 and A9X (used in the just-announced iPhone SE and iPad Pro) are also blazing fast easily beating the competition on single-core tasks.