It would be hard to come up with a better ending for struggling MIPS Technologies than the deal in which ARM and Imagination Technologies divvy up the company.
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.