Apple to continue reliance on Imagination for mobile graphics

Apple, Imagination Technologies extend their licensing agreement

Apple will continue relying on chip designer Imagination Technologies for multimedia rendering technologies in iPhones and iPads.

Imagination, which designs graphics cores, Thursday announced an extension of a multiyear licensing deal with Apple, which will give the device maker access to Imagination's graphics and video intellectual property. Apple will be able to tweak the graphics cores to fit in its A-series chips used in its mobile devices.

An Imagination spokeswoman declined to provide further details of the extension.

Apple has continuously boasted about its strong graphics capabilities in the iPhone and iPad via its chips, mostly at the expense of Nvidia. Like Imagination, Nvidia earlier this year announced it would license its graphics core designs to companies.

Apple is an investor in Imagination, which may have triggered the extension, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Graphics technology can also be difficult to develop, so the extension could be a sign that Apple prefers to rely on outside technology though the company has internal graphics chip experts, McGregor said.

Imagination's PowerVR graphics cores have been used in chips from Apple, Samsung, Intel and others. ARM also offers the Mali graphics core designs, while Qualcomm uses the Adreno graphics core in Snapdragon chips.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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