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The company behind Apple's iPad and iPhone GPUs is now up for sale

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In April, it was confirmed that Apple was planning to replace the PowerVR GPU designed by Imagination Technologies that is currently implemented across its iPhone and iPad product lines. For obvious reasons, this was not great news for the U.K.-based company and as a result, it is putting itself up for sale.

A statement posted on the Imagination website on Thursday confirmed that the company has already been in contact with several parties interested in making the purchase. “The Board of Imagination has therefore decided to initiate a formal sale process for the Group and is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders,” read the announcement.

Imagination lost 70 percent of its value after it emerged that Apple would source its GPU components from elsewhere, according to a report from Engadget. With that in mind, it is really not too surprising that finding a buyer would be the next logical step to ensure the company’s survival.

From Apple’s perspective, bringing the design and manufacture of GPU chips in-house — which seems to be the long-term plan — brings all kind of financial and practical benefits. Of course, losing an account as large as this could easily spell doom for a company like Imagination, if it isn’t quick to find a path forward.

Imagination considers itself to be in a “dispute” with Apple over their parting, which is referenced in the published statement. It remains to be seen how this will impact both the acquisition process and Apple’s capacity to design its own bespoke GPU.

Apparently, Apple still owns an 8.1 percent stake in Imagination, something of a holdover from when it made preliminary moves to acquire the company in 2016. Apple could be convinced to play nicely, as the GPU specialist seems to have an ace up its sleeve that could scupper its former collaborator’s future plans.

The easiest path forward for Apple in terms of GPU design is to create a new chip that resembles its predecessor — but that model is protected by patents held by Imagination. Given that this split does not seem to be particularly amicable, expect to see Imagination fight to protect its intellectual property.

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Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
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