Imagination Tech sells chip design division to Sondrel

May 17, 2017 // 11:35 a.m.

Tags: #apple #chip-design #design #ensigma #imagination #imagination-technologies #imgworks #mips #powervr #semiconductor #silicon-design #sondrel

Imagination Technologies is continuing to sell off parts of its business in the wake of Apple's decision to pull its graphics processing work in-house, announcing a deal to sell its IMGworks semiconductor design division to Sondrel for an undisclosed sum.

An early pioneer in hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, Imagination Technologies hit it big with a deal to produce the graphics hardware for Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast console. While it has since all-but abandoned the PC market bar high-end raytracing accelerator boards for workstation use, the company's PowerVR graphics hardware is a common sight in tablet and smartphone devices the world over. Sadly, that sight is to get considerably less common with the announcement from Imagination's biggest customer Apple that it was to take its graphics processing work in-house. The result: a £65 million hole in Imagination's balance sheet.

Since Apple's announcement, Imagination has been seeking to balance the books with a sell-off. Earlier this month the company announced it was selling its MIPS processor division, acquired back in 2012 for £60 million, along with its Ensigma digital signal processing (DSP) arm. Now, the company has announced another chunk is being traded with its IMGworks semiconductor design and engineering division being sold to private-held silicon chip design specialist Sondrel for an undisclosed sum.

'Video and graphics related business is going through a steep growth curve, driven not only by gaming and infotainment systems but also by the accelerated computational needs of the AI (artificial intelligence) environment that enables many of the new automotive, enterprise cloud and IoT [Internet of Things] related products,' said Sondrel chief executive officer Graham Curren of the deal. 'Combining our existing Design2GDSII expertise with the wider range of engineering expertise within the IMGworks team will allow us to deliver comprehensive System on Chip project execution, as well as other innovative solutions leveraging GPU technologies. Sondrel and IMGworks together will be positioned to take full advantage of predicted future semiconductor market trends.'

The sale leaves Imagination looking a little thin: Since Apple's announcement, the company has so far lost its DSP, CPU, and now chip design capabilities. The company's stock continues to trade between a half and a third of its pre-Apple-departure position.

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