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November 14, 2023

Chip designer Imagination Technologies to ‘cut up to 130 UK jobs’

In a challenging market for chips, the vendor is one of several reportedly looking to cut costs by axing jobs.

By Matthew Gooding

UK-based chip designer Imagination Technologies is set to make job cuts, with 130 staff reportedly facing the axe.

Chip designer Imagination Technologies is set to make up to 130 UK staff redundant. (Photo by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

The company is making changes in the face of what is a challenging “business environment” according to an internal memo sent to staff on Monday and seen by Reuters. It employed 559 people at the end of last year, according to company filings.

Job cuts bite at Imagination Technologies

Imagination develops chip designs and sells them to third parties. It builds blueprints for all sorts of chips, including CPUs and GPUs, based on its own architecture, and since 2021 has also been developing semiconductors that run on RISC-V, an alternative open-source architecture that has been gaining traction in the market. Last week it announced a partnership with RISC-V chip company, Ventana, which will enable customers to combine Ventana CPUs with Imagination GPU designs to build RISC-V-based systems on chips.

The company was the fourth biggest player in the chip IP market last year according to figures from IPNest, but in terms of market share trails a long way behind market leader Arm, as well as rivals Synopses and Cadence.

Its most well-known customer is Apple, with Imagination Technologies supplying the iPhone maker with GPU IP used in its devices. The companies first signed a deal in 2014, but then split in 2017 with Apple announcing it would instead develop its own graphics processors. But in 2020 a new agreement between the businesses was announced, with Apple being granted access to “a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for license fees”.

Owned by private equity firm Canyon Bridge, Imagination posted revenue of £120.3m in its last financial year, with a profit of £17m. Tech Monitor has contacted the company for comment, but in a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson said it was taking "steps necessary to adapt to the challenging and evolving market".

Chip industry job cuts bite

With demand for semiconductors having fallen sharply since the heady days of 2021, when the global chip shortage led to supply problems for industries around the world, companies in the sector have been making redundancies in a bid to cut costs until the market rebounds.

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US export controls on advanced chips and related technology being sold to China have also hindered many businesses in the sector.

In October, Qualcomm announced it was axing more than 1,200 roles, including a reported 150 job cuts at its UK offices in Belfast, Bristol and Cambridge. Weeks later another chip designer, SiFive, which makes RISC-V CPUs, said it was reducing its headcount by 20%, with up to 130 jobs at risk.

The UK's largest chip manufacturing plant, Newport Wafer Fab, had also announced plans to make up to 100 staff redundant due to the industry slowdown, though it is unclear if these cuts will still go ahead after the business announced a $177m take-over by Vishay Intertechnologies last week.

Industry big names such as Intel and Micron Technologies made significant job cuts in 2022.

Read more: Arm takes a bite out of Raspberry Pi with investment for IoT solutions

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