Apple steps up homegrown GPU plans with London hiring spree

“Apple is embarking on a hiring spree in London as it ramps up efforts to develop its own graphics technology just days after pulling the plug on Imagination Technologies,” James Titcomb reports for The Telegraph.

“It is likely to increase fears that Imagination will lose more staff to the iPhone maker after dozens of employees have jumped ship from the Hertfordshire-based group,” Titcomb reports. “Last week, Imagination was thrown into chaos when it emerged that Apple planned to stop using its designs for the graphics chips that power the iPhone and iPad.”

“Profiles on the networking website LinkedIn reveal that at least 25 former Imagination staff have joined Apple in the last two years in San Francisco and London,” Titcomb reports. “They include John Metcalfe, Imagination’s former chief operating officer.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, the message is crystal clear: Don’t fsck with Apple.

Of course, one would hope there is some mechanism in place to prevent Apple from running roughshod over suppliers, offering them lowball acquisition offers or payment terms and, if they refuse, destroying their stock prices with threats of lost business while also poaching the supplier’s key employees. (See related articles below.)

We expect such mechanism to be pursued via legal channels if Imagination Technologies feels they have been/are being railroaded.

SEE ALSO:
Why Apple’s ditching of Imagination is critical for the future of the iPhone – and maybe even the Mac – April 5, 2017
Apple could look to buy Imagination Technologies after ditching the chip firm, share price plunge – April 4, 2017
Imagination Technologies’ shares collapse after Apple dumps UK chip designer – April 3, 2017
Apple nabs top talent from iPhone 7 GPU chipmaker Imagination Technologies – October 13, 2016
After failed takeover talks with Apple, Imagination Technologies sells stake to state-owned Chinese company – May 9, 2016
Apple in ‘advanced talks’ to acquire Imagination Technologies for PowerVR GPU – March 22, 2016


16 Comments

  1. I thought poaching employees from other tech companies was the norm. Just look at the recent employee swaps between Apple and Tesla. Confidentiality agreements, gardening leave etc are all methods used to control the swapping of secrets. Imagination staff are jumping ship just like Blackberry employees did a few years ago. Get over it.

    1. IANAL. But I believe that in California, while you can’t have a non-solicit clause in an employment contract—that followed the Apple/Google poaching settlement that yielded a nice check for Apple and Google employees some years ago—you can in an intercompany contract like a supplier agreement.

      My guess would be that Apple and Imagination had a non-solicit agreement, which would be why Apple appears to be hiring FORMER Imagination employees rather than current employees.

    1. For current and future AMD and Nvidia GPUs, as long as they (Nvidia, AMD) are willing to produce the drivers there is no reason they can’t be used with OS X on a Mac.

      Speculation is the Apple GPU may be also a very important co-processor for a broader system use, to add very specific functionality and product differentiation. Apparently the all the effort for a big company like Apple doesn’t justify the money alone. But initially this is oriented to the iPhone and iPad.

    2. This will have absolutely zero effect on the Mac or Hackintosh community for several years. The earliest we’ll see an Apple derived GPU in an iOS device is late 2018 and maybe not until 2019.

      We won’t see a Mac related Apple GPU until 2020, if ever. We might see one as a specific co-processor (not a main processor or GPU) in a MacBook (or whatever the equivalent will be given that Apple can’t seem to come up with a long term plan for their laptops) in 2019 that supports just specific functions (like that task bar), but a full blown GPU will have to compete with AMD and Nvidia. AMD and Nvidia are far, far ahead of anything Imagination has for brute force work, even in the laptop equivalent world.

      Could Apple catch up? Yes, but both AMD and Nvidia are moving targets. In 2021 could Apple ship an Apple CPU with an integral Apple GPU that is equivalent to an Intel CPU with its integral Intel GPU and external (to the CPU) AMD or Nvidia GPU of today? Absolutely. But, unless Apple starts shipping old technology — even more than today — they won’t announce new laptops in 2021 that are three to four years behind the power curve.

    1. You seem to suggest that anyone that creates an application (i.e. Watson) has some form of immunity or guarantee that Apple won’t develop one as well…. For that matter, Apple designs their own CPUs, why would anyone think GPUs would be off the table? For that matter, it’s not as if Apple didn’t telegraph their intention for years now. Apple has been recruiting GPU engineers for at least 5 years now.

      As for Samsung, yes, they will do business with Apple if it is profitable enough for them to do so. Shame on any company that puts all of their eggs in one customer’s basket. That’s just a poor business decision and it never ends well.

  2. Apple *don’t* design their own CPUs. They license a design from ARM, then alter that design to suit their specific requirements. That is very different to designing from scratch, which is what they claim to have done for the GPU.

      1. I believe that they are a stage beyond that. My response was to technicalconclusions’ statement that “Apple design their own CPUs why would anyone think GPUs would be off the table?”
        There is a world of difference between modifying a design and designing from scratch.

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