Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 16:04 UTC
Apple

In what shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Apple these past 10-15 years, the company is developing its own graphics chips. The news was revealed in a quite venomous statement from Imagination Technologies, the company whose chips Apple is using right now.

From the statement:

Apple has used Imagination's technology and intellectual property for many years. It has formed the basis of Graphics Processor Units ("GPUs") in Apple's phones, tablets, iPods, TVs and watches. Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination's technology.

As a result of the news, Imagination's shares fell 70 percent, because Apple is by far Imagination's largest customer, accounting for about half of its revenue. Imagination's statement then proceeds to almost but not quite (yet) threaten Apple with patent litigation.

Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination's patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it.

Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple's assertions.

Of note here is that in the past 18 months or so, various high-level Imagination employees joined Apple.

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Comment by Licaon_Kter
by Licaon_Kter on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 16:58 UTC
Licaon_Kter
Member since:
2010-03-19

The second quote makes Apple's move so sweet and righteous, those are threats right there.

Edited 2017-04-03 16:58 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Licaon_Kter
by dekernel on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 17:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by Licaon_Kter"
dekernel Member since:
2005-07-07

You mean you don't threaten your customers with litigation to keep them? Sure an interesting tactic to say the least.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Licaon_Kter
by FlyingJester on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 18:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Licaon_Kter"
FlyingJester Member since:
2016-05-11

Once Apple (or any big tech company) has decided to do something itself, it's not going back to licensing technology anytime soon. There's not a lot of chance that Imagination will see Apple's business after this in any case.

Reply Score: 3

The Plan
by Treza on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 19:19 UTC
Treza
Member since:
2006-01-11

1) Announce that you will make the GPU yourself

2) Your main provider sees its value divided by 4

3) Buy the company

Et voilĂ  !

Reply Score: 11

RE: The Plan
by BlueofRainbow on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 21:47 UTC in reply to "The Plan"
BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

The 0th element of the plan appears missing:

0) Hire key personnel from your main provider!

Reply Score: 4

Wow
by darknexus on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 19:21 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

I'm no expert in business by any means, but isn't it generally a bad idea to try to keep your customers by threatening them? One would think that would make them, I don't know, more determined to dump you wouldn't it?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Wow
by Kochise on Mon 3rd Apr 2017 19:56 UTC in reply to "Wow"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Had Imagination been more 'open' in the past regarding various architectures, it perhaps wouldn't have put all the eggs in the same basket. Depending 50% on one customer, may be it Apple... moreover *especially* if it's Apple, is not a clever strategy in the long run.

Enough than a single statement, made by Imagination themselves, shot them in the foot and decrease their value by 70%, almost bankrupting them. Some community managers or PR should gets fired first.

Edited 2017-04-03 19:56 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Wow
by oskeladden on Tue 4th Apr 2017 00:01 UTC in reply to "Wow"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

I'm no expert in business by any means, but isn't it generally a bad idea to try to keep your customers by threatening them? One would think that would make them, I don't know, more determined to dump you wouldn't it?


No.

If you know that a customer is going to walk away, then you know that their business is gone. If the customer has done things in the past that have aggrieved you, but which you have been tolerating for the sake of the relationship, it can make business sense to send a message that you will be asserting your rights in relation to those grievances.

If what Imagination's saying is true, then Apple's poached key people from Imagination who had access to confidential information on Imagination's technology. Having done that, it's decided that it can work around Imagination's patents and other IP. Imagination is sending a message to Apple that it's not going to sit back quietly, but will insist on its legal rights in the strictest way possible. That's a perfectly sensible strategic response, given that there's no hope of getting Apple back.

But then, I'm a lawyer so I would say that.

Edited 2017-04-04 00:02 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Wow
by Kochise on Tue 4th Apr 2017 04:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Wow"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Imagination is a UK company, Apple a US company. That's just enough to say Apple will win. Not counting in that Apple is also 100x bigger than Imagination.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Wow
by Finalzone on Tue 4th Apr 2017 07:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wow"
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

Being bigger does not warranty victory, ask Intel.

Reply Score: 2

what a joke
by TechGeek on Tue 4th Apr 2017 00:16 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

Intel got into the GPU business and with all their technical might, their GPUs dont hold a candle to AMD or Nvidia. Apple is in for a world of hurt. You simply CAN'T produce a modern graphics card without infringing on others IP. Apple should just buy AMD's GPU business.

Reply Score: 6

RE: what a joke
by Lobotomik on Tue 4th Apr 2017 08:30 UTC in reply to "what a joke"
Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

Wow, now, there's an idea!

Apple could probably buy the whole of AMD and kick also Intel in the ass. Not only do AMD's current x86 chips have very credible performance, but Apple can effortlessly improve it ten fold by simply applying their proprietary reality distortion field.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: what a joke
by fmaxwell on Tue 4th Apr 2017 09:45 UTC in reply to "RE: what a joke"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

Not only do AMD's current x86 chips have very credible performance, but Apple can effortlessly improve it ten fold by simply applying their proprietary reality distortion field.


It seems that the "reality distortion field" emanates from the Apple's competitors. For example, the British Which? magazine tested laptop battery life against manufacturer's claims and here's what they found:

Apple MacBook Pro 13
Claimed battery life: 10 hours
Which? tests: 12 hours

Lenovo Yoga 510
Claimed battery life: 5 hours
Which? tests: 2 hours, 7 minutes

HP Pavilion 14-al115na
Claimed battery life: 9 hours
Which? tests: 4 hours 25 minutes

Dell Inspiron 15 5000
Claimed battery life: 7 hours
Which? tests: 3 hours 58 minutes

Acer E15
Claimed battery life: 6 hours
Which? tests: 2 hours 56 minute

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: what a joke
by kurkosdr on Tue 4th Apr 2017 11:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: what a joke"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

It seems that the "reality distortion field" emanates from the Apple's competitors. For example, the British Which? magazine tested laptop battery life against manufacturer's claims and here's what they found:
...


It was about time someone shed light on the scam that is Windows laptop battery life claims. Has anyone achieved those claims using the bundled OS? It seems to me that OEMs calculate their battery life theoretically, aka "what if some theoretical OS existed that kept all the components running at their absolute lowest power modes and the screen at its dimmest setting, all the time?"

In fact, on Windows Vista and above, laptops are not allowed to hit the lowest power mode for the CPU by the OS. Just search for "Windows Timer Resolution: Megawatts Wasted" for more info. It is the reason why laptops which had no problem hitting 3-hour battery life with Windows XP only get less than two and a half hours with Windows Vista or Seven.

So, glad someone shed light on this bad practice.

Edited 2017-04-04 11:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: what a joke
by Alfman on Wed 5th Apr 2017 20:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: what a joke"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Some reviews will put the same model of a latop, like the latest MBP 13, at completely different battery lifetimes ranging from 6-12 hours. I really think one can find whatever review one wants to back whatever preconceived notions they have, haha. It sure does make it tough for a consumer to compare realistic specs. I'd be tempted to take a median from multiple reviews, but then I know damn well that facts shouldn't be determined by popularity!

Battery life must take brightness into account to be fair, and most reviews allude to this but it appears that many reviewers just eyeball the brightness bar and say "half brightness" or similar but fail to actually measure this in an accurate reproducible way. One laptop's 50% or 60% is probably not equivalent to the same value on another.

Also, most reviews only measure a short period, like 90 minutes or so for a movie, and then extrapolate full battery life from that, but that's a flawed methodology if final 10% doesn't last as long the first 10% ;)

For example:
http://www.trustedreviews.com/macbook-pro-13-inch-2016-touch-bar-re...

Streaming Netflix for an hour at one-third brightness, the the MacBook Pro consumed 14% of its charge, 1% more than the base model.


Ironically this same reviewer said this:
I also found the battery indicator to be less reliable than on the base model; not always providing an accurate reading.


Doh! His conclusion:
I was able to get around eight hours at a much lower brightness. I'm comfortable with a dim screen, but many buyers might not be.


I have no idea who's actually right, but numbers seem to be all over the place depending on who's reviewing it. I agree with the need for consistent testing in realistic conditions across manufacturers and operating systems. Unless they precisely document all their specs, it's hard to know they did the right thing.

Out of curiosity, I'd even like to see the numbers for windows/OSX/linux running on the same box.

Edited 2017-04-05 20:45 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: what a joke
by avgalen on Tue 4th Apr 2017 11:42 UTC in reply to "what a joke"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

What a weird comparison. Intel GPU's are used by about 70% of all computers with AMD and NVidia both at roughly 15%. They also serve completely different needs.

(source: http://wccftech.com/nvidia-amd-intel-gpu-market-share-q3-2016/)

Reply Score: 2

Pathological Capitalism...
by Jace on Tue 4th Apr 2017 02:51 UTC
Jace
Member since:
2005-07-25

I know nothing like this kind of reform will happen during the current administration, but holy crap do we seriously need the patent system completely rebuilt from the ground-up (or just eliminated, because, at this point, the bell curve on "things left to invent/discover" has reached the point where there's little that's actually fundamentally "new").

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pathological Capitalism...
by Drumhellar on Tue 4th Apr 2017 05:27 UTC in reply to "Pathological Capitalism..."
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

(or just eliminated, because, at this point, the bell curve on "things left to invent/discover" has reached the point where there's little that's actually fundamentally "new").


That's pretty much what Charles Holland Duell said back in 1898.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Tue 4th Apr 2017 11:04 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

As regards the actual news, Apple will try to work around Imagination's patents and after the inevitable lawsuit negotiate a license for the rest. The money will be less than buying the entire IP core, aka what Apple does now. Much like Google's move of writing an MS Exchange client for Android and paying a license after the lawsuit was cheaper (for Google and OEMs) than buying an entire MS Exchange client from some third-party or from MS.

Reply Score: 2