The main funding will come from Imagination and BAIC Capital initially although other investors may be brought in subsequently. Imagination did not indicate the amount of funding or the proportions that the two parties will hold.
The as yet unnamed JV company will be headquartered in Zhongguancun Integrated Circuit Design Park. Bravo Lee, who has held senior roles in Imagination, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Spreadtrum will be CEO of the JV. It will develop and license IP for application processors for autonomous driving assistance systems (ADAS) and voice interactive chips for intelligent cockpits.
The joint venture will license Imagination's IP cores and software related to GPUs and neural network accelerators, Imagination said.
BAIC Group is the leading automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in China, and the fourth largest automaker in China. Imagination, said it has more than 50 percent market share by volume for automotive application processors.
"We are very pleased to cooperate with investors such as BAIC Group, a leading Chinese automotive company, to establish an advanced automotive chip design company in Beijing,' said Ray Bingham, interim CEO of Imagination, in a statement.
Bingham added that Imagination will support the JV and other Chinese automotive chip companies. "We shall work together to provide advanced chips for intelligent connected vehicles worldwide."
In the last few weeks magination has been the centre of a row about the future of the company (see Imagination to stay based in UK, owner promises). This row saw the departure of CEO Ron Black, who had flagged up a risk that the company would be relocated to China. After Black's departure, chairman Ron Bingham, from owners Canyon Bridge, became interim CEO and promised UK politicians that Imagination would continue to be headquartered in the UK.
Canyon Bridge acquired Imagination in 2017 after the company's stock price collapsed on the news that its leading customer Apple had formed an engineering team to develop its own GPUs
Imagination is still a supplier of GPU cores to mobile phone companies but is looking to base future developments on the use of graphics and neural networks in the automotive, industrial and IoT sectors.
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