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Apple, Imagination Technologies extend iPhone, iPad graphics chip license pact

Apple's latest A7 SoC. | Source: Chipworks

British semiconductor design firm Imagination Technologies, whose PowerVR graphics processors are a key component of Apple's iOS devices, on Thursday announced an extension of its multi-year licensing agreement with the Cupertino company.

Terms of the extension were not announced, but Imagination did say that the agreement spans multiple years and covers a variety of uses. The contract "gives Apple access to Imagination's wide range of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores," Imagination said in a release.

Imagination shares rose by as much as 20 percent on the London Stock Exchange following news of the deal.

As compensation for use of Imagination's technologies — whose powerful PowerVR S-series chips have powered every Apple mobile device since the third-generation iPhone 3GS — Apple will pay ongoing licensing fees as well as royalties for each SoC that includes Imagination's intellectual property.

Apple's new state-of-the-art A7 chip, which sits at the heart of the flagship iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina dislay, uses Imagination's PowerVR Series 6 graphics cores alongside a customized, 64-bit ARM-compatible application processor. The A7 offers nearly twice the performance of its predecessor, the A6X.

In addition to the license, Apple is a minority investor in Imagination Technologies. Apple owns nearly 10 percent of the company.