NEW YORK -- MIPS Technologies has officially gotten its mojo back.
During its fourth quarter earnings call on Wednesday (Aug. 4), MIPS said it added 13 licensees for its cores, including new four customers. Among the 13, MIPS also gained another licensee in mobile handset applications, thus bringing the total of cell phone chip vendors in the MIPS camp to five. In the third quarter, MIPS announced an “anchor mobile chip company based in Asia” who chose MIPS over ARM for its future 3G basebands/application processors.
Although still nowhere near to catching up with ARM – which dominates the mobile world – MIPS is exploiting a growing Android-based smartphone segment and LTE market, cultivating new licensees in the new applications.
Renewed efforts to go after new markets and re-engage with its existing customers with updated roadmaps are making a world of difference for MIPS. Also, the arrival of new CEO Sandeep Vij earlier this year appears to have juiced the company.
Sandeep Vij, CEO of MIPS Technologies
MIPS also announced what CFO Maury Austin called “blow-out” quarterly results. Its Q4 revenue was $23.3 million, an increase of 33 percent over prior-quarter revenue of $17.5 million, and an increase of 85 percent from the $12.6 million reported in the fourth fiscal quarter a year ago.
Revenue from royalties was $12.4 million, an increase of 3 percent from the prior quarter and 62 percent from the fourth quarter a year ago. Highlighting the fact that MIPS achieved royalty growth in four straight quarters, Austin noted that MIPS is “the only IP core processing company” to do that.
Meanwhile, MIPS’ license revenue was $10.9 million, a sequential increase of 101 percent from the prior quarter and an increase of 120 percent from the $4.9 million reported in the fourth quarter a year ago.
Asked if the company may have drained the licensing pipeline dry, MIPS CEO Vij said, “We did not.” He added, “Our pipeline continues to grow and it remains strong today in all regions and all applications.”
MIPS is predicting licensing revenue of $6 million to $8 million per quarter for the coming year.
Mobile, mobile, mobile
Of the three key markets MIPS serves, including digital home, networking and mobile, the fastest growing segment is mobile, according to Vij.
Obviously, the company started out from a little to no market share base. So, this may not say much. But Vij stressed that MIPS is seeing “very strong traction” for using MIPS cores in baseband and application processors.
Among its mobile licensees, in addition to the “flagship” customer the company talked about in April and a new customer just signed this quarter, MIPS has lined up Mavrix Technology which MIPS announced earlier this year, Altair Semiconductor and another licensee developing LTE baseband chips, according to the company.
Android and LTE are two key factors allowing MIPS to find openings in the mobile world. Calling smartphones “a very dynamic market,” MIPS CEO noted that the company is making faster progress in supporting applications such as handwriting and voice recognitions, mapping and others that can run on top of Android.
MIPS to surpass Freescale’s PowerPC in networking
The networking segment in which MIPS is playing includes wired and wireless equipment. With licensees such as Cavium and Netlogic doing extremely well, Vij declared that MIPS processors has now officially surpassed Freescale’s PowerPC in market share in the networking space.
According to MIPS, the latest IDC number in wireless (including WiFi, WiMAX and cellular infrastructure) shows MIPS with more than 50 percent share. Similarly, in wired (including broadband access devices, Ethernet switches and routers), IDC also shows MIPS with more than 50 percent share, the company said.