LONDON – Processor and related intellectual property licensor MIPS Technologies Inc., a pioneer of the reduced instruction set computing (RISC) style of architecture, is looking for a buyer, according to a Bloomberg report that referenced unnamed sources.
MIPS (Sunnyvale, Calif.), which rivaled fellow processor IP licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) at one time but has struggled over recent years, has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to identify and negotiate with potential acquirers of the company, the report said. The company's stock, which is traded on NASDAQ, jumped in price by more than 25 percent to close at $6.58 on Thursday (April 12).
A MIPS spokesperson said the company had "no comment."
MIPS, which originally stood for Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages, was founded by computer scientist John Hennessey of Stanford University and enjoyed success in the 1990s licensing 32-bit and 64-bit cores to developers of computers and set-top boxes and its architecture has also enjoyed success in networking applications.
The company has built up a long list of licensors – including Broadcom, Cavium, Cisco Systems, LSI, Microchip and Toshiba – but has not enjoyed much success in the mobile phone and mobile computing markets of the last decade. The company was also been quite successful in capturing licensees in China but despite efforts to address mobile devices with Android initiatives MIPS has not made much headway in the hot markets of smartphones or tablet computers.
MIPS made a net loss of $449,000 on total revenues of $32.5 million in the six months ended on Dec. 31, 2011. This compares with a profit of $13.5 million on total revenues of $44.4 million in the same period a year before. In January MIPS CEO Sandeep Vij told analysts that the company was looking at ways of monetizing its patent portfolio.
I used MIPS for almost ten years, but their patents for the unaligned instructions that Lexra never used, should not have been awarded (prior processors had unaligned access). MIPS closed down a company that was winning more customers. When you loose Sony, Nintendo etc you obviously upset people. Gouging out eyeballs in Nintendo's case was clearly visible in the annual statements. The SysAD and SysCMD bus was the next worst thing to try and use, plus the higher prices for interface chips to use this silly standard. PowerPC took out the high end, and ARM with reasonable licence fees took out the low end. Instruction sets are unimportant when writing in C; the ecosystem is more important. ARM have done well at MIPS expense.
MIPS lost out when IBM took over the last generation of video games with IBM's Cell processor and the like. A huge royalty revenue soon dried up for MIPS, which was never replaced. A couple new spins of MIPS cores came out, but those didn't go far.
Interests in China, which seems highly motivated to advance in high-tech computing, could pick up a great portfolio of processor patents and know-how by buying MIPS Technology, also resolving many potential disputes in regards to IP. The Godson processor knocks off the MIPS architecture. If a company in China bought MIPS, it might be a strange reversal to send IP revenues to China.
But it is sad that such an icon seems to be falling to its knees.
Hey, does Sandeep Vij get held accountable for total failure? Nice job Sandeep of turning around MIPS!
"Team MIPS," said Vij, "is much more than just one company or one building surrounded by four walls, I've found out." By "Team MIPS," Vij means all the companies that use MIPS cores in chips, MIPS architecture licensees, and those who develop tools, platforms and software that run on MIPS.
"They all have tremendous loyalty for MIPS. They all want us to succeed," Vij explained. "When you have that many well wishers, you know you can lean on them."
I guess all those good wishes didn't lead to revenue? Has he just realized that ARM has and will continue to completely eat his lunch and he has no way to change that? So now he just wants to get paid and get out of there?
I have to imagine all the MIPS employees stopped working on 4/13 and are sending resumes to ARM. What a misery pit that place must be.
The last article Peter Clarke wrote about MIPS sale was inaccurate (he has a habit of doing that). Now he rewrites something Bloomberg reported. Can't EEtimes hire competent reporters these days, instead of just rehashing articles written by real reporters?
If some quality buyer comes, he will be better able to utilized the quality resources of MIPS, it totally depended on the decision makers where they want to take the company, the quality manpower will always there at the bottom level.
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