LONDON – MIPS Technologies Inc., a licensor of processor intellectual property that has been reportedly up for sale, has provided long-time customer Broadcom with a multi-faceted, multi-year patent and technology license in return for $26.5 million.
Broadcom (Irvine, Calif.), a leading fabless communications chip company, has been a MIPS licensee since 1998 and was one of the companies that it was thought could make an offer for MIPS (Sunnyvale, Calif.). However, it appears that Broadcom has instead sought to protect itself with an all-encompassing license, one-time deal.
For a payment of $26.5 million Broadcom has obtained non-exclusive worldwide license to patents owned or licensable by MIPS for use with its Broadcom products. In addition it has been granted a multi-year extension of its current MIPS architecture and core licenses that lasts until the last-to-expire of those patents has expired.
"This agreement demonstrates the strength and value of our patent portfolio. In addition, we are pleased that Broadcom, MIPS' largest customer, has extended its license of MIPS' architectures and cores," said Sandeep Vij, CEO of MIPS, in a statement.
MIPS success, and even future existence, may depend on the reception given to the company's lastest product announcement; three families of Aptiv processor cores addressing the low, mid and high ends of the licensible processor core market. The three families are prefixed micro-, inter- and pro- respectively, with initials spelling out MIP and suggesting a Super family yet to come.
I'm sorry but I don't get the connection to the value of the patent portfolio. BRCM is the top MIPS customer. I would be more impressed if they announced someone paying them for patents that doesn't use MIPS. I mean, come on.
ARM still has a long way to go to catch up to MIPS for multi-core or 64-bit. For Broadcom, they would loose at least a year if they swapped to ARM to get to the same number of cores and 64-bit as they currently have with their MIPS ISA. A real pity that MIPS was so greedy when they still had Sony and Nintendo as customers. I still recall the prices of Silicon Graphics boxes, the Compaq fiasco, it just keeps coming back in nightmares. I wasted years working with various MIPS devices.
This is chump change for Broadcom to protect its long time interests. Hopefully this keeps MIPS (company) alive for a bit longer. Broadcom will be one of the few companies remaining that continue to be a MIPS house. Remember that it paid a staggering $4B to acquire Netlogic for their MIPS processor implementation. They don't have an option but to continue down the MIPS line.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.