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The world economy may be in a tailspin and jobless rates worldwide may be rising to unprecedented heights, but there's one happy company that's raising cash and beefing up its staff size: Imagination Technologies.

As we reported last week, Apple recently spent $4.8m of its $25bn in cash reserves to acquire 8.2 million shares of the British designer of graphics and video chips for mobile devices. Intel - never one to miss a golden opportunity - apparently concurred with Apple's money men and late last week increased their own Imagination holdings by 934,422 shares, adding to the 6 million they acquired in October of 2006 when they licensed Imagination's graphics cores to supplement their Atom mobile microprocessor.

Interestingly, Apple's stock purchase was far more favorable financially than Intel's original buy-in, considering that Apple paid 39 pence per share last week, while Intel paid 88 pence per share in 2006 for a total of £5.28m ($7.88m in today's dollars).

But what's a few million among business partners? Imagination is a rising star among chip designers, with its hot-selling PowerVR MBX technology powering the iPhone and iPod Touch, and its indisputably hotter PowerVR SGX GPU and PowerVR VXD Video Decoder presumably poised to power the next generation of Apple mobile devices and Intel Atom-based platforms.

Imagination Technologies isn't merely spending its Apple and Intel booty on celebratory eggnog this holiday season, however. They're instead bucking the layoff trend and investing in new engineers. In the "PowerVR Software" section of their Careers webpage you can now find postings for six positions that fit quite nicely into Apple's OpenCL plans for Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard - three of which specifically reference the OpenGL ES open-source standard (two for OpenGL ES Graphics Driver Design Engineers and one for a OpenGL ES Graphics Senior Driver Design Engineer). We can only assume that there's no coincidence that the PowerVR SGX GPU is compatible with the latest version of that standard, OpenCL ES 2.0, which adds programmable 3D graphics to the PowerVR's powers.

So if you happen to be one of the many who are either fearing or recovering from a layoff from HP, Yahoo!, Nvidia, or some other struggling tech firm, you might want to point Google Maps towards Kings Langley, Hertfordshire UK, Imagination's home. We hear that there are still tickets available for Jack and the Beanstalk in nearby Stevenage - it's "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fun!" ®

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