back to article Apple iPhone GPU designers Imagination axes 20 per cent of staff

Brit chip design house Imagination Technologies will shed a fifth of its workforce in a £27.5m ($40m) cost-cutting spree. The Hertfordshire-based biz said on Thursday it will lay off about 200 people in addition to the 150 it said in February it would make redundant. That adds up to 350 or 20 per cent of its 1,700 headcount …

  1. asdf Silver badge

    hmm

    They can spin it however they want but when your CEO quits and his interim replacement lays off 1/5 of the staff things are not rosy. Big Apple supplier as the past has shown doesn't always mean making bank.

    1. goldcd

      And that's not just your average CEO quit

      "Sir Hossein Yassaie was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Imagination Technologies where he worked from 1992 to 2016."

      I bought a PowerVR card way way back in the say (Matrox m3D) - and he'd been there from way before that purchase.

      My guess is would be that MIPS is dead and they're gearing up to flog their IP and some people to Apple. Just a guess mind, but when your multi-decade CEO decides he's given up the fight..

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Very sad.

    Perhaps they ARE inefficient, or Apple pays too little out of greed (their margins are fat) and others pay too little because of very slim margins.

    On many products there is a retailer driven rush to the bottom on prices.

    I don't know what's wrong. Sure their ought to be still a good market for MIPS in Routers, TVs, Setboxes even if ARM dominates Phones and Tablets?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Very sad.

      Apple apparently owns 10% of the Stock in Imagination. That makes me think that they are not being mean as you put it.

      As has been said, I think this is some attempt to get the fruity company to buy them out. But the stock rose so the price of such a deal just went up. Mind you what it would cost to buy them is small change to Apple.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Very sad.

        The Pure DAB business is being sold so I expect there are some Head Office roles relating to Pure that won't be needed. The previous boss was behind the Pure DAB part of the business, but that is not being carried over to the new boss.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very sad.

        >Apple apparently owns 10% of the Stock in Imagination. That makes me think that they are not being mean as you put it.

        Makes me think it allowed the execs to squirrel away a nice sum for rain days, maybe paid for some shiny new kit and suicide netting, but it's chump change in the fruit factory universe.

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Very sad.

          Everything - short of Tim Cook personally running the US DoD - is chump change in the fruit factory universe.

  3. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Unhappy

    "Actively seeking to fill over 50 roles..."

    Yeah, those jobs are secure and have a future.

  4. nijam

    > a top-selling RISC platform.

    They did OK, but I don't recall MIPS ever being a "top-selling" RISC platform.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @nijam

      It depends how far you go back.

      Silicon Graphics complete workstation line used to be MIPS based, and DECstations from Digital Equipment Corp. also were powered by MIPS processors overlapping the VAXstations, and the hot Alphastations.

      Of course, this was when there were significant differences between proper technical workstations and high-end PCs. MIPS powered two of the five (POWER - IBM. PA-RISC - HP, Sparc - SUN, MIPS - DEC and SGI) major technical workstion platforms, and they also appeared in a number of high performance UNIX minicomputer designs (Pyramid and I think Sequoia spring to mind, but I believe there were others).

  5. Matthew Taylor

    We make webGL visualization apps / sites etc. When we're testing something new, it's always the iPhone which runs up against some limitation or other. Their render performance is pretty good, but whether it's Z-buffer resolution, off screen render buffer size limits... there always seems to be something it can't quite do. That's not to say it's necessarily the GPU of course, could be something in Safari, or elsewhere in IOS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parking Tanks in ARMs back yard?

    My observations are:

    1) A brilliant achievement to grow the business and technology to the level it achieved.

    2) Relationship with ARM not brilliant so ARM decided to reduce their dependency on PowerVR in their main bread winning market sector ... Mobile phones. They achieved this by aggressively promoting and integrating Mali GPU which became a very attractive option for the value segment of the smart phone and tablet market plus emerging smart TV and android boxes and other embedded applications.

    3) The MIPs offering was a tank parking threat which ARM did not like and reinforced their decision to become less reliant on PowerVR.

    4) It would in retrospect been a better deal for UK PLC for ARM to acquire IMG some years ago so the combined forces were heading in the same direction.

    5) MIPs is a good architecture but got left behind and didn't manage to make the same success it found in STBs and Consoles. Probably still opportunities for it but can't see it being much of a threat to ARM unless ARM priced themselves out of market SOC sectors they had no interest in pursuing due to support costs or indemnity issues.

    6) Perhaps the way forwards is to gradually exit the licensing model and transition to SOC offerings in new emerging market growth sectors where they can offer MIPs based cost effective solutions in embedded IOT etc type applications such as Robotics etc.

    Difficult choices to make. Simplest would be for ARM to aquire PowerVR group thus keeping Apple and Samsung in their comfort zones and then let the remainder of IMG sail into new IOT embedded SOC sectors.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Maybe they will lose Apple as a customer

    Apple hired a bunch of GPU engineers several years ago, and speculation was that they were going to design their own GPU instead of using a modified PowerVR core like today, similar to how they have designed their own ARM core, instead of using a modified ARM core like they did with the A5 and A6.

    Maybe they finally have their own GPU design ready and told Imagination last fall that they would not be licensing PowerVR for the iPhone 7 and beyond. If that happened, Imagination would know a decrease in their licensing revenue is coming and they'd have to cut expenses.

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