Report: Intel to shed its stake in Imagination Technologies

Intel is about to jettison its stake in Imagination Technologies. That’s according to JP Morgan Securities, which has caught wind of the move and shared some specifics about it. Dow Jones Business News has the story:

Intel Foundation will offer 13.4 million shares, or about 4.9% of Imagination, for sale and that it and Intel Capital will both no longer have any shares in the company if all shares are sold, JP Morgan Securities said.

Based in the UK, Imagination Technologies is the company behind the PowerVR graphics IP. PowerVR graphics are found in everything from Apple’s A-series SoCs to some of Intel’s Atom processors.

Intel first purchased its stake in Imagination back in October 2006, coinciding with an extension of its licensing agreement with the company. PowerVR graphics were originally used across the entire Atom lineup, but they’re now restricted to “Moorefield” Atom chips for phones and small tablets.

Intel’s rumored divestment could mean the chipmaker intends to abandon PowerVR altogether. Moorefield’s successors might therefore end up equipped with homebrewed Intel graphics, just like Bay Trail is today.

PowerVR graphics will carry on inside other processors, including Apple’s. AppleInsider points out that Apple, also an Imagination stakeholder, renewed its agreement with the British firm last year. Imagination has apparently let slip that the new agreement “spans multiple years and covers a variety of uses.”

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    • ronch
    • 5 years ago

    Very interesting news to me. I’ll be receiving my new phone tomorrow that’s powered by an Atom SoC with PowerVR in it. So I guess this is the last SoC one can get from Intel with PowerVR.

    Edit – Just got it. Wonderful piece of technology especially at just $193.

    • tviceman
    • 5 years ago

    I’d rather see Intel license Nvidia maxwell core IP for use in their tablet / phone SoC’s. 8″ Windows tablets with performance exceeding Tegra K1 graphics would be pretty sweet.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah, I think it makes a ton of sense for Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia to tackle tablets together. Higher end tablets could mix Intel CPU cores with a Maxwell SMM (or two), lower end ones could use Intel HD Graphics.

        • _ppi
        • 5 years ago

        The “little” issue would be that in such a case, Intel would get direct access to exact architecture of Maxell, because Intel would manufacture the chips on their own process. I am not certain nVidia would wish to do that.

          • 3SR3010R
          • 5 years ago

          That is exactly what Intel will get “direct access to exact architecture of Maxwell” by licensing Nvidia’s IP.

          [quote<]We're open to licensing technology to companies who would like to exercise their own design and build their differentiated products. [/quote<] [url<]http://www.thestreet.com/story/13044248/12/nvidia-nvda-earnings-report-q4-2015-conference-call-transcript.html[/url<]

          • TO11MTM
          • 5 years ago

          Intel could always fire up the partnership with TSMC back up and make Maxwell+Atom chips there…

    • 3SR3010R
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]Intel's rumored divestment could mean the chipmaker intends to abandon PowerVR altogether. Moorefield's successors might therefore end up equipped with homebrewed Intel graphics, just like Bay Trail is today.[/quote<] Or maybe Intel will license another vendors GPU IP.

      • chuckula
      • 5 years ago

      Another GPU vendor?
      MATROX FTW!

        • rootheday3
        • 5 years ago

        In the mobile space ARM Mali and Vivante are both offering graphics IP. It wouldnt surprise me to see some Intel low end tablet/phone SoCs use IP blocks from one of those while pushing their in house IP into others.

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        Long live S3!

          • jihadjoe
          • 5 years ago

          Everyone making graphics cards today is already licensing some IP from S3 (S3TC).

            • ronch
            • 5 years ago

            Guess they’re practically just an IP licensing outfit.

        • TA152H
        • 5 years ago

        Sad to say, but Matrox uses AMD/ATI stuff now. Sad, I know.

          • auxy
          • 5 years ago

          Err? They do?

          [i<]edit:[/i<] [url=http://www.kitguru.net/components/graphic-cards/anton-shilov/matrox-to-use-amd-radeon-graphics-chips-for-next-gen-graphics-cards/<]Huh, they do.[/url<] Or, they will; I don't think they do yet. They're still selling cards based on the ancient G550 chip... incredible!

            • TO11MTM
            • 5 years ago

            A lot of their market is/was medical and government. They love dem long supplied, well qualified parts. And I have to admit, the G series and Parhelia cards I used had the most solid drivers of their day (from a Desktop use perspective.)

            I still feel like Parhelia was ahead of it’s time, aside from the fact it was a really poorly provisioned chip (the 4×4 was a waste of die which made it way too expensive.) I forgot how much I missed 3 monitors till I did Eyefinity…

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      [quote<]Or maybe Intel will license another vendors GPU IP.[/quote<] They already have full access to nVidia's IP through their lawsuit settlement a few years back.

        • rootheday3
        • 5 years ago

        Full disclosure: I work in the Intel graphics team. IANAL, my opinions are my own not that of my employer.

        The settlement doesnt mean that Intel has open access to or is using nVidia hardware designs or logic blocks. It also doesnt mean that Intel already has a license from nVidia to use nVidia gpu rtl drops in Intel SoCs.

        For the “gen” gpu, we develop that completely in house and independently.

        The settlement simply means that, if Intel independently designs and implements a feature that nVidia thinks is similar to something they have patents on, nVidia can’t sue and threaten Intel’s ability to manufacture/import/sell chips with graphics in them (roughly 70-80% of Intel’s revenue – $40B/year)..

        Unlike say, what nVidia is doing to a couple of other SoC companies. By Intel signing the agreement for a total of 1.5 billion over 5 years , they have taken that threat/club out of nVidia’s hand.

          • 3SR3010R
          • 5 years ago

          The Intel agreement with Nvidia expires at the end of 2016 and you are correct that the agreement is for use of Nvidia’s IP in existing Intel GPUs designs.

          [quote<]"Licensing a technology is different than incorporating an entire processor. The settlement provides Intel with access to our IP and patents, such as Sandy Bridge which already uses NVIDIA technology. The license enables Intel to extend that model for the next 6 years." [url<]http://arstechnica.com/business/2011/01/intelnvidia-bombshell-look-for-nvidia-gpu-on-intel-processor-die[/url<] [/quote<] With the agreement coming up for renewal by the end of 2016 do you see any changes to it? It also seems strange that the Deutsche Bank analyst would even have the idea that Intel would not renew or renew at a lower rate. If anything you would thing the "fixed rate" license from 2011 would cost Intel more now since Intel now has a greater footprint in graphics. [quote<]“Changes in royalty income as IP licensing payment agreements may expire.” [url<]http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-risks-deutsche-bank-sees-150309307.html[/url<] [/quote<]

          • auxy
          • 5 years ago

          Tell your employer that those of us in the gaming community want a 320EU discrete graphics part with 4GB of stacked memory! (*‘∀‘) So we can complain about your drivers more than AMD’s!

        • chuckula
        • 5 years ago

        To reiterate what rootheday3 said: The deal is *not* that Intel actually gets any designs or technology from Nvidia. Instead, the deal is that Intel can go out and design its own GPUs independently without having to worry that Nvidia will sue Intel over patent infringement of Nvidia’s portfolio. There is a BIG difference.

          • VincentHanna
          • 5 years ago

          the way our patent system *should* work in the first place…

          • 3SR3010R
          • 5 years ago

          WOW. An intelligent well thought out answer.

          Now what have you done with the REAL chuckula?

          EDIT: An example from the REAL chuckula

          [quote<]Another GPU vendor? MATROX FTW![/quote<]

      • just brew it!
      • 5 years ago

      Why? Their own GPU tech has finally gotten to where it doesn’t suck any more.

        • UnfriendlyFire
        • 5 years ago

        Except for their drivers. Well, it’s a lot more lacking in features than AMD’s and Nividia’s including adjustments for video quality.

          • rootheday3
          • 5 years ago

          Can you give a specific example of relevant features that Intel is missing? Eg some feature that applications use which Intel drivers don’t offer?

          Do you have specific, current example of image quality issues on IvyBridge or Haswell GPUs?

          If you have such, I am genuinely interested and will work on getting them fixed.

          If on the other hand you are simply repeating old stereotypes, please stop.

            • auxy
            • 5 years ago

            You come off a little defensive here, but I don’t really blame you that much. (‘ω’) I would be mad if people constantly said my work sucked with no justification!

            I don’t know of many outstanding issues with Intel’s drivers, but I know there was some concern over excessive, uh, ‘optimization’ a while back when everyone was testing Iris Pro 5200; moire patterns in textures even with AF enabled, and so on. The drivers were probably pretty early at that point, I’m sure. Intel’s graphics control panel is pretty spartan, too; I’d like to see a few more options there, like forced anti-aliasing and the option to force more rigorous handling of texture filtering and such. (disabling ‘optimizations’ much like the “High Quality” settings in AMD and NV’s panels) Adding SMAA in the driver would be a really nice touch!

            With that said, I have had some issues with a few OpenGL applications on Windows using Intel HD Graphics 4600 with the current driver revision as of ~February:[list<][*<]Id Tech 5 games have serious texture pop-in, worse than on AMD or NVIDIA hardware (possibly performance related? framerate is good though)[/*<][*<]Minecraft is a massive stutter-fest and basically unplayable on some machines using Intel graphics, including mine (but runs fine on others, with no apparent pattern)[/*<][*<]Unity engine games exhibit extremely poor performance (worse than expected) (´・ω・`)[/*<][/list<] Overall I'm very impressed with Intel's graphics. I'm very fond of QuickSync! I've also been pointing out to everyone how Warframe DX11 runs great on Medium settings, with high textures, in 1366x768. (Low resolution, admittedly, but that's what it runs at on the Xbox One!) You guys could use that game as an optimization case study and use it to show off graphics hardware, as it looks great, runs great, and is popular. ('ω')

            • UnfriendlyFire
            • 5 years ago

            i3 Sandy Bridge IGP: Issues with rendering “fuzzy” circles in movies. AMD’s and Nividia’s drivers were able to accurately render the circles, but on Intel’s IGP, it renders as large blocks even on max video quality setting.

            Example: In the movie WALL-E, the main antagonist (Auto) has blocks rendered over its camera on Intel’s IGP.

            There’s also less options to adjust video quality in the i7 4500U’s HD4400 IGP drivers compared to AMD’s and Nividia’s drivers (de-noise, de-blocking, edge-detect, etc).

      • ronch
      • 5 years ago

      Or buy ATI out of AMD’s hands…

        • Zizy
        • 5 years ago

        Or just buy AMD 😉

          • ronch
          • 5 years ago

          But… but… The x86 license wouldn’t transfer to Intel, would it? 😀

            • UnfriendlyFire
            • 5 years ago

            Well, the company that buys AMD can play hardball by refusing to allow Intel make 64-bit CPUs.

            Either Intel allow the x86 license transfer, or they bring Itanium (IA-64) to the consumer market.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 5 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be crazy if Apple bought Imagination now that Intel’s investment is out there? They don’t have to, honestly, but what if they bought them to use against GPU suppliers (like Intel, AMD or nVidia) the same way they do with CPU’s.

    Every time CPU’s come up for negotiation, they trot out their ARM CPU core and look at Intel, grin and say, “So you were saying HOW MUCH was your best deal? Btw, let’s use my new Macbook Air prototype based on one of our custom ARM chips to, uh, type up the final arrangements.” Leaning closer, the rep grins. “Or perhaps would you like these to NOT be our FINAL arrangements?”

    The better deal comes through.

    Hell, Apple could even use MIPS if they really wanted to go it alone.

    More likely, though, it just highlights that Intel is ready to go whole-hog into GPU’s and integrated processors using 100% Intel developed technology (excepting licensing agreements with AMD and nVidia naturally). Still, it’d be odd to see Apple buy up the premier SOC GPU IP company because one of the results would be it’d create a whole lot of licensing opportunities for nVidia in the long term. Or AMD, if they were smarter than they probably are.

    • chuckula
    • 5 years ago

    Considering that Intel’s in-house GPU designs typically have solid Linux support while the drivers for PowerVR are typically a trainwreck, I applaud Intel pushing more in-house GPU designs.

      • christos_thski
      • 5 years ago

      Having fought with intel’s execrable GMA500 graphics chipset on an Atom netbook (I think it’s a PowerVR SGX 535, that is, the same GPU with the one on iphone 4, but powering a small laptop -practically twice the pixels- and sporting lousy drivers) I have to concur. That p.o.s. netbook barely supports linux, specifically because of the inexistent gpu support…

    • balanarahul
    • 5 years ago

    I hope GPU performance and power efficiency of Airmont get affected negatively.

    Edit: I really hope Airmont will be able to compete with Snapdragon 815s and Exynos 8s of the world. Especially with their experience with 64-bit computing.

    Edit 2: *sigh* Get down voted for hoping for more competition.

      • srg86
      • 5 years ago

      I’d rather have decent linux drivers than PowerVR anyday. (Now PowerVR with decent linux drivers would be even better, but we have to be realistic here).

      • chuckula
      • 5 years ago

      So you claim that you want the next-generation Atom parts to perform worse in the name of “competition” with the entrenched ARM monopoly.

      “Competition” you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        • Pancake
        • 5 years ago

        I think he’s got negative/positive mixed.

          • ronch
          • 5 years ago

          Maybe someone inserted his battery wrong.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      I’d rather the other guys do things BETTER. I won’t ever wish the big guys do worse just so the other guys have a chance.

      That’s the same logic that the AMD fanboys have when they scream at the world we should all be buying whatever AMD manages to crap out because if we don’t there won’t be any competition.

      If it’s as bad as all that, then the race is already lost. Competition’s already gone because we’d be pity-buying product that isn’t up to the pricing and/or quality of what we should be getting for our money.

      And that means we might as well go buy the other stuff anyway. So I’ll never ever wish for better products to be worse just so the underdog has a shot of catching up. I’ll just wish instead for the underdog to catch up all on their own.

        • ronch
        • 5 years ago

        I’m not defending AMD fanbois here and I admit to rooting for the underdog, but I don’t think many AMD fanbois wish Intel to falter just so AMD can get a better shot. No. AFAICT most AMD fanbois want Intel to stay the same and AMD to catch up or (wishful thinking) even give Intel a surprise just like in the days of K7/K8.

      • VincentHanna
      • 5 years ago

      More competition by making the king fall and break his leg is not good sportsmanship.

      I hope Intel does amazing, blows every forecast out of the water, pulls off a quantum computer in 5 years.

      And I hope the Same for AMD and IBM.<–yes, IBM.

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      Change “negatively” to “positively ” and you will express what you intended.

      Negatively is for worse, positively is for better. Be aware of meanings!

      • Zizy
      • 5 years ago

      Uhm, you probably should want Intel to get better, because now it is lagging behind even SD, let alone Apple stuff.

      • ronch
      • 5 years ago

      Wow. Wishing something bad/negative to befall someone/something. That’s just pathetic. That’s something I don’t even wish for politicians.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 5 years ago

    First, I don’t think that Intel will be suffering from a lack of Imagination.

    Second…eh, I got nothin’.

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