Imagination Tech deepens staff cuts amid restructuring

Imagination Technologies is putting the pedal to the metal on the restructuring plans it announced in February. In an update to its corporate blog today, the company says it's accelerating the plan by putting 200 more jobs on the chopping block, reducing overhead, and winding down or selling "non-core and/or cash-consuming units." Imagination had already announced 150 layoffs as part of its February notice. The company says the move will let it save an extra £12.5 million ($18.1 million) that'll be delivered by April 2017.

It's not all bad news, though. Imagination says that it's not planning any reductions in its three main businesses—PowerVR, MIPS, and Ensigma. In fact, it's looking for 50 new employees for the PowerVR business as part of its efforts to bolster that division. The company also says it's seen "considerable interest" in Pure, the smart radio and audio business that it put up for sale in February. All told, the company expects to save £27.5 million ($39.7 million) by April 2017. Imagination Technologies shares rose sharply on the news

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    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    When one of the most prevalent and successful players in the ARM SoC market is severing its limbs to keep alive, you know the market players are earning a pittance per chip sold. The real winner here is ARM. The rest are just retailers of their IP.

    • fellix
    • 4 years ago

    China already bastardized an old DEC Alpha design, by strapping vector FP units to the main ISA. But I guess that project is for HPC research only.

    • Meadows
    • 4 years ago

    All that bluster to save $40 million over the course of a full year? I wonder what these guys think of AMD.

    • guardianl
    • 4 years ago

    I have a hard time seeing how ImgTec survives as an independent company in the long-term. SoC’s are getting more vertically integrated and ImgTech knows it, hence the MIPS acquisition. The problem is that ARM is cheap and ubiquitous. Heck, even Mali GPUs are quite good now and in general, the graphics IP world is becoming commoditized.

    You have to wonder what happens when Apple ships their own GPU (only a matter of time I think) and ImgTec loses their largest customer.

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      I can just imagine Intel swooping in. The IP should be worth a few million bucks.

      • crystall
      • 4 years ago

      [quote<]You have to wonder what happens when Apple ships their own GPU (only a matter of time I think) and ImgTec loses their largest customer.[/quote<] Apple owns a significant portion of ImgTec's shares so the day Apple ships its own GPU it's most likely a PowerVR derivative, possibly after having swallowed ImgTec whole. [edit] Fixed a typo

        • blastdoor
        • 4 years ago

        I suppose one purpose of restructuring is to make the company more appealing to a buyer, and Apple is a pretty logical buyer.

      • the
      • 4 years ago

      Imagination also has a few tricks up its sleeve hard a hardware ray tracing accelerator which could stand on its own. I want to say that the first silicon of this taped out late last year so hopefully we’ll be seeing something soon.

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    I always wonder if MIPS will truly be relevant again outside of some niche use cases (routers, etc.). As much as I want it to succeed again though, I think having an open ISA for anyone to use is more ideal. RISC V comes to mind.

      • just brew it!
      • 4 years ago

      I think MIPS will continue to live on in embedded applications where unit cost is the overriding concern. Microchip’s PIC line transitioned from their own proprietary architecture to MIPS a few years back, so I’d be willing to bet MIPS will continue to see extensive deployment in automotive, appliance control, industrial, “IOT”, etc…

      Not sure how much licensing revenue ImgTec gets from the Microchip deal (can’t be more than a few cents per unit given that Microchip’s controllers typically sell for around $2), but there’s a lot of volume there.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 4 years ago

      Is China a niche case?

      I’m interested in seeing how RISC V shapes up too. It doesn’t have a GPU attached to it though. Aside from that, it looks like an interesting ISA, and I’d like a dev board to be released.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        China..? Who knows what they really wanna do with MIPS. Oh yeah there’s the Russians too. Isn’t there an article here recently about a Russian made comoputer powered by MIPS? Who knows what Putin wants to do with those too.

          • Flatland_Spider
          • 4 years ago

          MIPS is supposed to be China’s national processor, and they really wanted to buy it when MIPS was on the market.

          There was. I’m assuming the Russians are piggybacking off of China’s work, and it’s the only ISA with traction in non-Western aligned countries that have the capabilities to produce procs.

            • bhtooefr
            • 4 years ago

            Nowadays, though, China’s got access to an x86 design, through VIA Alliance Semiconductor. (Which is basically VIA’s Centaur (x86) and S3 (graphics) IP, Shanghai’s money.)

            • ronch
            • 4 years ago

            China became an x86 ‘licensee’ through VIA? Since when did VIA have the right to license x86 to someone else?

            • bhtooefr
            • 4 years ago

            AFAIK, they didn’t, and they don’t.

            They’re doing it through a carefully constructed joint venture that, I [i<]think[/i<], acts as a contractor to VIA on the design side, as well as a customer of VIA on the sales side, to avoid annoying Intel too much. (This is just a guess from how it looks like they're doing things.) The question, of course, is what happens when VIA's x86 license expires in 2018. If Intel doesn't renew it (watch for a lawsuit from VIA in the next year or two - that's how they got their first x86 license, by suing Intel before Intel had a chance to sue them - and with five year longevity on at least one of their designs being sold into Western markets, they need that license), I wonder if VIA Alliance Semiconductor will split at that point and have VIA's x86 designs manufactured solely for Chinese consumption.

      • the
      • 4 years ago

      MIPS at this point is mainly for legacy applications still hanging around. Sure, Imagination is still building new cores as long as there is demand but I can’t see that being sustainable in the long run. ARM has made massive in roads into the markets which MIPS dominated.

      From below RISC-V has gained interest do to its open nature.

      Long term it looks like MIPS will be squeezed out of the embedded market unless something major happens.

        • Buzzard44
        • 4 years ago

        I wouldn’t be so quick to write MIPS off. There are still new products coming to market and being developed using MIPS cores.

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