British chip designer Imagination Technologies has apparently snapped up 3D graphics firm Caustic Graphics, most likely to incorporate its solutions into their mobile GPU blueprints. Since Apple’s A4 silicon incorporates Imagination’s IP, the acquisition could be a sign of a more powerful graphics for the next iPad and iPhone. On Tuesday, Imagination Technologies filed its interim half year results for the six months ended 31 October 2010. Their half-year profits rose 131 percent year-on-year to £10.1 million, thanks to strong licensing and doubling of chip unit volume as the company remains upbeat about its future prospects:

Despite the volatile macro economy, the group remains well placed for further solid growth based on its active licensing pipeline, expected chip volume ramp and royalty growth, as well as the potential for PURE to exploit its strong product line-up and develop its new sales territories.

The report came amid rumors that the company is to acquire Caustic Graphics, the maker of 3D technology for mobile devices, in exchange for a cool $27 million. Although Imagination didn’t formally announce the Caustic acquisition during the earnings call, the move would file as their second acquisition this year. Earlier this year, the British fables silicon design firm snapped up VoIP operator HelloSoft for a purported $47 million.

Caustic Graphics is behind the OpenRL SDK, a cross-platform, industry-standard programming API with "unique raytracing extensions" built on the OpenGL and OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) APIs. The acquisition will likely complement Imagination’s existing 3D graphics solutions for mobile devices.

Both Caustic and HelloSoft acquisitions should bolster Imagination’s intellectual property as it makes further strides into the mobile space on the heels of its lucrative licensing deal with Apple. The Californian gadget powerhouse bases the design of its A4 system-on-a-chip on Imagination’s PowerVR SGX 535 GPU blueprint.

The A4 chip is used across the company’s iOS device ecosystem that includes the iPad and the second-generation Apple TV, in addition to the fourth-generation iPhone and iPod touch. Also, Apple is an investor in Imagination holding a 9.5 percent stake in the company.

Possibly related to Imagination’s acquisition of Caustic are a series of Apple patents uncovered by PatentlyApple indicating a 3D variant of Mac OS X and iOS. Imagination also owns PURE Digital radio brand (formerly VideoLogic).

Source: ShareCast