updated 11:10 am EST, Thu December 18, 2008
Apple buys into IMG
Apple has made a heavy investment into another chip manufacturer, according to an announcement. The company has bought 8.2 million shares in the Imagination Technologies Group, giving it a ownership stake of 3.6 percent. IMG is perhaps best known for producing the PowerVR series of chips, used to accelerate graphics in mobile devices; as a result, Apple may now be in a position to use the chips in future iPods and iPhones, or else some unknown device.
Aside from share ownership, this is supported mainly by an IMG announcement from September, in which it revealed that it had signed a multi-year licensing agreement with an "international electronics systems company," generally believed to be Apple for several reasons, such as industry sources and the backwards-compatibility of a current PowerVR chip with code used in the iPhone and iPod touch. The chip is the PowerVR SGX, which is not only faster but supports the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard, and provides a scalable shader engine for more advanced 3D effects.
Several months ago Apple bought chip designers PA Semi, best known for processors based on the PowerPC architecture. Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared that the purchase was intended to aid its iPod and iPhone development, which -- in combination with today's IMG investment -- may suggest that the company intends to bring as much control of chip design for Apple handhelds as it can muster in-house.