Apple to cut ties with long-time GPU partner, may develop its own GPUs in-house
Imagination announced this morning that Apple is planning to wind down their use of Imagination’s intellectual property and expect to no longer be using it in 15 to 24 months. According to Imagination, the UK firm's GPU design will be replaced by “a separate, independent graphics design,” meaning that Apple is creating its own GPU and intend to use a completely different design from the ones provided by Imagination. Imagination intends to make the case that Apple’s designs will still infringe on some of Imagination’s IP, so they want to discuss alternative licensing arrangements.
It’s not clear what effect this will have on the outcome of the A11 SoC that will appear in the iPhone 8, but we can be certain that Apple has no interest in Imagination’s upcoming Furian architecture, which won’t be ready in time for the A11.
This is a significant announcement as Imagination’s designs have found their way into Apple’s SoCs since the first iPhone. Apple has brought a significant number of GPU engineers onboard as of late, and now we can be almost certain that Apple’s plans to create their own GPUs have been in the works for some time. With computing relying less on CPUs and more on dedicated processing units, the savings from making them in-house could be a significant investment for the future.