SAN JOSE, Calif.MIPS Technologies Inc.'s quest for a stake in the ARM-dominated mobile handset market seemed, just a little more than six months ago, to be the proverbial impossible dream -- at least in the eyes of most industry analysts.
Today, while the goal still remains ambitious, MIPS has proven that the dream could actually come true. The processor IP core company revealed this week that it has landed a major cellular baseband/application chip company based in Asia.
Sandeep Vij, MIPS CEO, is not saying who the customer is. But he acknowledged that the deal represents MIPS' first win on the cell phone market, displacing ARM as the processor IP core. The unnamed customer based in Asia "has licenses for both ARM and MIPS," and it chose MIPS over ARM for its future 3G basebands/application processors, explained Vij in an interview with EE Times at the Embedded Systems Conference.
While MIPS' so-called "anchor licensee in Asia" remains a mystery, Gary Mobley, senior analyst at Benchmark, speculated in his research note : "Our best guess is that it's either Renesas (1 percent share of baseband market), Mediatek (15 percent share), NEC (2 percent share) or Spreadtrum (less than 1 percent share)."
Mobley further noted, "This win, combined with the Beceem win, could eventually give MIPS at least a 2 percent to 4 percent market share within the cellular baseband market within the 2011 time frame." He added, "While 2 percent to 4 percent market share does not sound like a lot, the cellular baseband chip market is a $10 billion market opportunity, implying at least a 10 percent boost to existing royalties."
According to Mobley, MIPS' third quarter resultsannounced this weekfinally hit the license revenue forecast. MIPS reported Q3 FY10 revenue of $17.5 millionincreased 15 percent sequentially, with license and royalty revenue up 42 percent and 6 percent quarter-over-quarter, respectively.