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ARM buys Falanx

Imagination to license alone

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ARM has acquired Norwegian mobile graphics chip developer Falanx, the pair announced today. The financial details of the deal were not made public. The news is not good for Imagination, now essentially ARM's former graphics technology partner.

To date, ARM has licensed mobile graphics technology provided by Imagination Technologies, from whom it also won the right to sub-license the OpenGL ES 1-oriented PowerVR MBX. ARM said today the Falanx's GPU family, Mali, will allow it to meet "rapidly growing" demand for more sophisticated graphics in mobile, automotive and home applications - essentially the OpenGL ES 2 support delivered by Imagination's PowerVR SGX.

Imagination was certainly quick to announce it will continue to offer its PowerVR SGX family independently from ARM. Three days ago, it announced it would launch a US direct-sales operation.

However, CEO Hossein Yassaie told Reg Hardware the ARM announcement had not come as out of the blue. He characterised the news as a sign of the maturation of the mobile graphics market and that the revenue-sharing deal with ARM had effectively run its course. He said the two companies would continue to work together to support existing PowerVR MBX sub-licencees.

UK-based Imagination said it has just begun shipping the latest PowerVR SGX designs to its other licensees, including Intel, Texas Instruments, Renesas, Freescale, Samsung and Philips. Sample silicon is expected from partners this summer, Yassaie said, with production parts following early next year.

Imagination is one of the longest-running players in the mobile graphics market. Rising demand is stoking some aggressive competition, fueled by the arrival of graphics giants ATI and Nvidia into the market. Nokia last month partnered with ATI after the latter acquired mobile GPU specialist BitBoys. In March, Nvidia acquired mobile graphics middleware maker Hybrid Graphics.

Falanx will become a new Graphics IP Business Unit within ARM, the company said. ®

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