Apple is in the process of developing its own graphics processors for future iPhones, according to recent reports.
While the tech giant has remained silent about the news, its business partner Imagination Technologies, a chip manufacturer, confirmed that within the next 15–24 months, Apple won't be utilizing its intellectual property for GPU chips anymore.
This week, Imagination Technologies released a statement explaining the situation, which read:
Apple has used Imagination's technology and intellectual property for many years. It has formed the basis of Graphics Processor Units ("GPUs") in Apple's phones, tablets, iPods, TVs and watches. Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination's technology."
The UK company added that Apple had not specified that it would not need Imagination's technology any longer, despite Imagination requesting the confirmation.
Although the production of a new GPU chip will excite many, it is unwelcome news for Imagination, who relies on Apple for half of its revenue. Indeed, Apple is reportedly Imagination's biggest customer, with an 8% stake in their business. Reuters reports that the tech firm's share price decreased by more than 70% since they revealed the news on Monday.
Evidently, Imagination isn't taking the situation lying down. The company stated it would be difficult for Apple to manufacture a GPU themselves without infringing on Imagination's intellectual property rights.
The news comes a year after rumors that Apple planned to buy Imagination were confirmed, but obviously didn't come to pass. Six months later, it emerged that Apple had poached a number of engineers from Imagination, which makes sense, in light of the GPU revelation this week.
This development could yield some very interesting drama should Apple succeed in producing a GPU that's radically differently from their collaboration with Imagination. However, the latter also said that they were still negotiating with Apple about "potential commercial arrangements," so we'll have to wait and see.
Do you think Apple's labs can produce a GPU that's not only up to scratch, but also better than Imagination's technology? Taking that a step further, can they do it while avoiding a massive patent lawsuit? Let us know in the comment section below.