Imagination is the name of the of company making the wicked cool low power graphics chip called PowerVR SGX. In the handheld manufacturing market Imagination scored two huge design wins. First was the Apple iPhone and iTouch. Second is the Palm Pre. It is very encouraging that the designers at Palm chose the PowerVR in order to create the iPhone killer. No doubt Palm benefited directly from inside knowledge of the iPhone when they hired former Apple VP Jon Rubinstein to head this new iPhone killer project at Palm.
Now Apple realizes it needs to protect it’s competitive advantage. They are sinking some several million dollars in Imagination stock to prevent any hostile takeover of their strategic partner. Even more interesting than this move on Apple’s part is Intel has already staked a huge claim on Imagination without having a single design win to announce. There’s some word out that future netbooks will use an integrated PowerVR chip. But the next revision of the Atom CPU and chipset will definitely have PowerVR integrated in, scoring some bigger more strategic design wins on the low power front. Intel hopes to best Apple at the low end, low power, long battery duration category.
The investment is considered important for Apple, which uses only PowerVR graphics in its iPhone and iPod touch devices. Its most recent launch, the iPhone 3GS, uses a PowerVR SGX video core now believed to be the SGX535.