Apple opens UK office dedicated to developing proprietary graphics technology

Apple has reportedly opened a 22,500 square feet office in St Albans in the United Kingdom, right in the neighborhood of its former mobile GPU provider Imagination Technologies which has its headquarters in the adjacent Hertfordshire village of Kings Langley.

It reportedly plans to use the new office to develop its own graphics technology.

According to The Telegraph newspaper this weekend, this could be interpreted as a rather aggressive move aimed at poaching Imagination’s most talented engineers. Indeed, Apple has more than a dozen listings for experts in graphics hardware in South Hertfordshire.

Apple’s already poached several Imagination engineers, including its COO John Metcalfe.

As The Guardian’s James Titcomb wrote:

The development is set to heighten tensions between the companies, exacerbating fears that Apple is seeking a quasi-takeover of its supplier by hiring its employees and weakening the company’s hand as the two tussle over Apple’s plans to ditch the company.

Apple and Imagination have been at odds since April, when the former told the British fabless chip designer it’d stop using its GPU blueprints for its in-house designed mobile processors.

Imagination put itself up for sale last month.

Apple informed Imagination that it has a been working on its own GPU design and told them it would be reducing its future reliance on Imagination’s technology.

Just last week, Apple clarified it actually stopped accepting new intellectual property from Imagination back in 2015, rather than in 2016 as Imagination said to its shareholders.

“We valued our past relationship and wanted to give them as much notice as possible to adapt their future plans,” said an Apple spokesman. “We’re disappointed in their response, which has been inaccurate and misleading”.

New GPU designs from Apple could debut in next year’s iOS devices.