It seems to me that a year ago Sandeep Vij (CEO) was seen as MIPS savior (wasn't he one of your top ten executives who made a difference in 2010?), and that MIPS would soon be eating ARM's lunch. What happened?
The 1980's DLX instruction set is possibly in the public domain. There are a host of 32-bit RISC uControllers and bus interfaces that don't need anything from MIPS (ARM's AMBA etc). Why buy a company when you can license the ISA? Why should China buy ST or MIPS or any other failing USA or European companies? And to add insult to injury, the share price goes up -- like when the Lexra consortium looked into buying MIPS some time back, but then walked away (most are probably ARM licensees now).
For MIPS it is about aptented instructions (less then word loads and stores). It is mostly legal story: without those instructions you can't call it MIPS, and if you make CPU with them you have to pay for them (and those insturctionsa re not commonly used). But Chinies made their own implementation from scratch so it is not fair to call that coping. Or just say that AMD is coping Intel x86 CPUs.
Are all the comments that say the Chinese just want to copy stuff and not play IP games based on up to date info or are they just prejudice?
Before getting too arrogant it is worth remember that some of the greatest American engineering feats claimed- like the space program - were based on foreign IP.
I suspect that as Chinese engineering, business and research changes we will see a change in the way IP is handled too.
MIPS has been looking for a buyer for the last year or more.
Perhaps Synopsys should finish the acquisition that it started in 2009 with the analog portion of MIPS. Synopsys already has ARC (via Viragelogic), so it shouldn't make matters any better or worse with the ARM relationship.
Market research suggests that ARM had 50 to 60 percent of the embedded processor market in 2010. The next most significant architecture was MIPS with about 10 percent, closely followed by a number of other architectures.
Although the market has probably moved towards ARM in the last year I think the vast size of the embeded market in terms of units will support a number of licensors, particularly as the detail of the hardware becomes less important compared with the overall package of Java Virtual Machine on hardware, Android, etc.
However, the the strength of ecosystem support and having critical mass is also important.
So for the usual market reasons I think at least two main architectures will continue to have enough scale. But I also expect other architectures to come through based on lower cost than ARM, and where roadmap is less important, and to occupy niche positions. These include ARC under the auspices of Synopsys, specialist DSP cores and hardware accelerators, and far-eastern startups such as Andes Technology.