Beyond his own CPU ambitions, Yassaie appears to see three upsides in purchasing MIPS’ operations.
is the Android factor. MIPS is one of the only three CPU architectures
directly supported by the Android OS. The other two are ARM and Intel.
He expects the deal to settle the current uncertainty surrounding MIPS, giving Imagination a chance to pitch MIPS to the industry as
a legitimate CPU choice – “a real alternative to ARM and Intel” –
especially in the Android world. That, by extension, means the global
Second is the China factor. Imagination will
inherit MIPS licensees, including the China-based fabless company Ingenic.
Gardner explained, “Ingenic’s CEO learned to design MIPS-based
processors at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has spawned several
MIPS designs, including the Loongson processor based on MIPS64.” He
added, “Imagination may be able to use its MIPS acquisition to gain
traction for its GPUs in the companies that favor the MIPS
Third is MIPS’ current product portfolio. Gardner said Imagination, in continuing to develop MIPS cores, will “start in a good position with the three-pronged Aptiv family of
cores, including the high-performance ProAptiv line.” He noted that
ARM’s recently announced Cortex-A57 “will achieve 3.9 CoreMark/MHz,
which is below the MIPS ProAptiv score of 4.5 CoreMark/MHz.” Gardner
added, “The MIPS cores should also consume less die area and power than
the high-end ARM CPUs.”
Yassaie stressed that the MIPS deal is “not an asset
acquisition,” but “a strategic acquisition.” Imagination
has a strong interest in “MIPS’ business, people and prospects,” he concluded.
82 patents Imgaination is buying are strictly related to MIPS architecture, essential for Imagination to develop MIPS core further.
While 498 patents ARM-led consortium is buying is more on fundamental processing.
It's important to note that Imagination is granted with "royalty-free, perpetual licence" to all of the remaining 498 patents it did not purchase.
Rick, don't you and Junko work at the same company? I see UBM editors writing to each other often in article comments. Maybe you could peer-review or read each others' stories before publishing them rather than asking the questions with the rest of the readers.
As for the topic of this article, the MIPS architecture has had very limited success outside of networking and is not in the broad spectrum of markets that ARM continues to seep into. Outside of networking, MIPS's primary value is in its patent portfolio. Indeed, that is something that both ARM and Imagination should be able to take advantage of in their own designs and/or monetize through licensing - a fundamental part of their businesses.
We editors like to join and spark the online conversation in the "open source" world rather than do it privately. We get more crowd sourcing smarts from the engineering world that way.
Question for you, Tom: Does this deal significantly upset the balance of processor patents in the ARM vs. Intel camps?
So Imagination seems to be replacing its own home-grown CPU for an industry standard one. Where does Imagination sell it's CPUs - do they expect to compete with ARM with their graphics-cpu combination - which markets?
ARM's interest squarely rests on the general patent protection. By being a part of the consortium which bought 498 patents out of MIPS' large patent portfolio (580 patents to be exact), they seek for the protection from any future law suits.
From what I understand, AST -- the consortium -- is not in the business of litigation, but rather, it exists to make sure these essential patents, such as those by MIPS, won't fall into the hands of patent trolls.