Apple Wants to Buy Japanese Chip Maker Renesas SP Drivers

Cupertino looking to improve image sharpness and battery life in upcoming iDevices

Renesas SP Drivers, a Renesas joint venture with Sharp and Taiwan's Powerchip, might soon be transferred over to Apple if everything goes as planned in Cupertino. The iPhone maker wants the company to improve image quality and battery life in upcoming portables, and it prefers to own the production, rather than order the chips on contract.

Japan’s Nikkei cites unnamed sources as saying that “Apple has its eye on Renesas SP Drivers, a Renesas joint venture with Sharp and Taiwan's Powerchip. Apple is said to be seeking Renesas' entire 55% stake for an estimated 50 billion yen ($479 million)."

“The Tokyo company appears to have logged a profit of 6 billion yen on sales of some 60 billion yen in the fiscal year ended Monday.”

The $479 million figure would translate into around €346.9 million.

Renesas SP Drivers has a staff 240 strong. Most of the employees will stay on board as the company’s assets are moved over to Apple, if a deal is reached and the acquisition plan moves from discussions to signatures. Apple aims to complete the acquisition by summer.

As the world's biggest producer of drivers and controllers for small LCDs, Renesas SP makes chips that “determine a display's quality and performance as well as a phone's overall energy efficiency -- they are said to account for around 10% of battery usage,” according to the Japanese publication.

Apple is already a client of Renesas SP Drivers, having relied on its LCD chips for a while now.

The move, while not confirmed, certainly seems like Apple’s modus operandi. The Cupertino juggernaut prefers buying a company outright, rather than rely on its time schedule and operations to churn out a certain component on contract.

It was the case with PA Semi years back, an acquisition that later materialized into the powerful A-series application processors that power iDevices. With the acquired talent, Apple now designs some of the most powerful mobile processors on the planet, but it still outsources the production of these chips.

Another example of Tim Cook & Co. taking matters into their own hands is the deal with GT Advanced. Apple has agreed to buy these guys furnaces and build them a huge facility to churn out tons of sapphire crystal for use in upcoming products.

Apple could be using a sapphire for the front and the back of the iPhone 6, a prediction casted by Softpedia yesterday and then picked up by various news outlets.

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