Apple went from owning 3.6% of Imagination Technologies to owning 9.5% (this is the maker of the PowerVR graphics architecture found in the iPhone) thanks to a recent round of share acquisition (2.2M shares). Interestingly, Intel also owns about 16% of Imagination, as there are plans to license graphics technologies for integration into Netbooks and MIDs.
The PowerVR story is a roller-coaster ride: it got some glory for being in the SEGA Dreamcast and started to make a name for itself in the PC space, but ultimately got crushed by Nvidia and ATI. Imagination then retreated into the mobile space where its PowerVR had an inherent advantage and got quite a few contracts, but the iPhone deal is the one has changed the game for the company.
Why is PowerVR so great all the sudden? It uses an architecture that tends to consumes less resources ( power, transistors, cache memory…) than most. It’s called a “Tiled Architecture” because it treats the display in small chunks, called tiles. The Zune HD, on the other hand uses a traditional GPU architecture, and it will be interesting to see if PowerVR will continue to do as well in the future as competitors focus on making low-power designs.
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