Apple signs new agreement with UK chipmaker Imagination

The iPhone maker revives a supplier relationship that was long thought dead

Apple has revived a business relationship that seemed all but dead by striking up a new license agreement with a UK-based chipmaker.

Imagination Technologies has now replaced the multi-year, multi-use license agreement it initially signed with the iPhone maker in 2014, according to a blog post on Thursday.

In its place is a new multi-year license agreement under which Apple will have access to a wider range of Imagination's intellectual property in exchange for license fees.

The company didn't specify which intellectual property this latest agreement covers, but it's believed Imagination's graphics and AI technology could be a big feature for future Apple hardware.

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The tech giant is well-known for using a combination of supplier deals and acquisitions in its portfolio of patents and designs – last year it acquired Intel's modem unit for cellular chip designs.

Imagination creates silicon and software for graphics and was acquired by Canyon Bridge, a global private equity investment fund, for $663m in September 2017.

Apple previously used Imagination designed graphics chips in its iPhones and iPads, but then announced it would stop using its intellectual property in new products within two years. It actually switched to its own chip designs on 2017's iPhone X and the iPad Pro a year later.

It's believed that Apple originally considered buying Imagination back in 2016, but no offer was made. Instead it began recruiting talent away from the chipmaker, including the company's COO, in what was seen as an attempt to construct its own in-house graphics team, which it did.

Imagination's stock plummeted when it announced the loss of Apple as a customer and also suggested uncertainty for its future if Apple didn't pay any royalties on its latest generation of iPhones and iPads. The company has yet to confirm whether Apple has paid those fees.

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