LONDON Lexra Inc. will quit the intellectual property (IP) cores business and become a fabless chip maker as part of a deal with MIPS Technologies Inc. that settles the patent lawsuit MIPS brought against Lexra in 1999.
Lexra (San Jose, Calif.) said it will become a MIPS architecture licensee and assign its processor IP to MIPS. Lexra will move into the network processor market, where it intends to move the chip version of its NetVortex design into production sometime this year.
The NetVortex PowerPlant (NVP) is expected to be a 16-way symmetric multiprocessor. Each processor runs MIPS-I instructions with the exception of unaligned loads and stores. Lexra added extensions for network communications, including operations for bit-field manipulation, packet checksum and hardware multithreading.
Referring to his company's decision to concentrate on supplying chips, Charlie Cheng, president and chief executive of Lexra, said, "This agreement comes about as communications companies increasingly prefer to purchase rather than develop complex network processing components."
MIPS' patent suit, filed in October 1999, was not the first legal wrangle between the two companies. MIPS' former parent, Silicon Graphics Inc., sued Lexra in April 1998, charging the company with false advertising and trademark infringement.
The two companies ended that dispute in October 1998 when they signed a memorandum of understanding that forced Lexra to specify that it did not implement the full MIPS-I instruction set.
Chris Edwards is editor of EE Times-U.K., a sister publication of EE Times.