Apple reinstates Imagination GPU chips deal after public dispute and employee poaching

New year, new Apple… and agreement with the former GPU chip supplier Imagination Technologies. This is according to a brief announcement from the British chip maker.

The development comes after months of public conflict between the two companies, Imagination employees being poached by Apple and the Imagination being sold to new owners.

Chronology

Apple warned Imagination in 2017 that it would stop relying on its graphics processing units used in iPhones and iPads within two years. Apple then delivered its first custom GPU as part of its A11 chip inside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in 2018.

Payments from Apple to Imagination dropped significantly after the change. The arrangement before the end of the two companies was also the source of many public dramas.

Imagination then filed an official complaint against Apple for the end of its contract, accusing Apple of its performance in an annual report. Apple described Imagination’s characterizations as misleading when hiring Imagination employees to work for the Apple GPU team in the same community.

The imagination was forced to go on sale after losing Apple’s business. Canyon Bridge, a Silicon Valley-based company allegedly funded by the Chinese authorities, later bought Imagination.

This was not without raising security and public trust concerns.

New agreement

So what has changed? Good question. What we know so far comes from an announcement by Imagination Technologies:

Imagination Technologies (“Imagination”) announces that it has replaced the multi-year, multi-use license agreement with Apple, first announced on February 6, 2014, with a new multi-year license agreement under which Apple has access to a wider range of Imagination intellectual property in exchange for license fees.

That’s all we know so far without Apple’s announcement.

A clue to what might have changed could be the new IMG A-Series Imagination GPU that claims to be the fastest IP GPU to date. The imagination has stated that the first Systems-on-Chips with its IMG A-Series GPUs will hit the market this year.

Could this mean that Apple will either rely on Imagination GPUs again or opt for licensed chips in other categories beyond the iPhone – such as the rumored rumor headset.

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