With the value of the British pound sinking, now seems like a pretty good time to buy things in the UK. Perhaps Apple had the same idea, because as CNet News reports, it has purchased a stake in Imagination Technologies. The stake represents 3.6% of the British intellectual property firm, and it cost Apple the equivalent of $4.8 million.
While Imagination Technologies itself doesn't make many headlines, its PowerVR graphics IP cores have showed up in hardware from Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and others. This latest announcement explicitly confirms that Apple is also a licensee, something rumor sites like AppleInsider have suspected for some time.
According to AppleInsider, this transaction confirms that Apple "has lined up exclusive graphics technology required to design customized, next generation mobile SoC chips that will be manufactured by its existing partners, most likely Samsung." Apple already brought development of ARM processor designs for the iPhone in-house earlier this year, so securing graphics technology seems like a logical step—especially seeing how the company emphasizes gaming on the (iPhone-derived) iPod touch.
The latest PowerVR IP cores do more than accelerate 3D graphics, too. We recently wrote about the PowerVR SGX531, which targets "1080p HD resolution displays and high frame rate applications." The SGX531 also supports Shader Model 3-class 3D graphics, and Imagination Technologies says its 128-bit bus architecture makes it a good fit for system-on-chip (SoC) devices.