Apple is buying graphics-chip designer Raycer Graphics for $20 million. The deal follows the successful initial public offering (IPO) of Akamai, in which Apple holds 5% shares.

The Raycer move means Apple has bolstered its bid to exploit the AltiVec/Velocity Engine running in its G4 line. It also offers the company leverage on patents - and intellectual property - in the high-end 3D-graphics industry.

Observers speculate that the deal is part of a plan to bring integrated processors and chip-sets to the Mac. These are cheaper than separate chips, but fail to deliver as high a performance.

Analysts, though, say the high-end 3D-industry is already overcrowded and that the investment is "risky".