The Apple gadget press is all a-twitter over news of yet another semiconductor company with ties to the Cupertino, Calif. consumer electronics giant. In a bit of Hollywood-style dishing of talk of discord, Imagination Technologies Ltd. is seen as going up against ARM to develop an iPhone-like graphic console for the home.
Apple is a 10-percent owner of Imagination, which makes the PowerVR graphics core for the iPhone. In a deal to be announced at the Embedded Systems Conference, Imagination will partner with MIPS Technologies, Inc. to display a high-definition chip meant for a home set-top box. Both Imagination and MIPS are rivals to ARM, who’s chips are the basis of an Apple design found in the iPad.
You may also remember ARM was at the center of speculation last week that Apple might pay $8 billion to buy the UK-based chipmaker, thereby potentially hamstringing its competitors. That rumor was tempered somewhat after the head of ARM issued a denial of sorts to the British press.
This partnership between Imagination and MIPS is couched in competitive language by chip industry publication, EE Times. The announcement “is essentially a shot across the bow” to ARM, which also wants to develop its own graphics chips.
Android is mentioned as one of the reasons why chipmakers and others are rushing to put graphically-capable TV platforms on the market. In an increasingly competitive environment between Cupertino and the Internet giant Google, Apple does not want to be left out in the cold. In 2008 Apple purchased chipmaker PA Semi for $278 million. That investment led to the design of the A4 chip found in the iPad and other Apple products. The iPhone maker may also have acquired Intrinsity, a chip designer that reportedly help boost the A4’s speed.
The import of this latest move by Apple is viewed by some as confirmation the company intends to enter the television market. Along with a recent patent application for a device described as a Wii-like ‘Magic Wand’ remote for Apple TV, the Cupertino firm is ‘uniquely positioned’ to enter the HDTV market, an analyst told investors in March.