Imagination Could Be Outbid On MIPS Deal

Max ‘Beast from the East’ Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope.

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A DSP chip designer from California is trying to get its mitts on MIPS

British GPU designer Imagination could lose out on a $60 million deal to buy US silicon pioneer MIPS, after reports of a higher bid from another player in the mobile processor market.

CEVA, a company specialising in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips, has reportedly offered $75 million for the MIPS estate.

TechWeekEurope previously reported that a consortium led by ARM was going to pay $350 million for 498 patents developed by MIPS, while Imagination was going to acquire the company and the rest of the patents.

It was thought the deal could help Imagination diversify its business, and challenge ARM in the mobile device market.

Change of plans

According to Imagination, the MIPS board still supports the original arrangement. However, Reuters reported that on Tuesday, the US company had started negotiations with CEVA, which has offered it $15 million more.

Circuit board © zhu difeng Shutterstock 2012CEVA, headquartered in Mountain View, California, is the world’s leading licensor of DSP cores. Its IP portfolio already includes technologies for cellular baseband (2G / 3G / 4G), HD video, HD audio, VoIP, Bluetooth and SATA.

“Imagination is monitoring the situation and will provide a further update in due course,” the British company said in its statement. Its shares fell three percent as the market opened on Wednesday.

Established nearly 30 years ago, MIPS was a pioneer of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) in the 1980s, and moved in the 1990s to licensing its core designs for embedded processors, a similar business model to ARM’s.

Despite early success, and a continuing presence in devices including Cisco routers and set-top boxes, MIPS has been eclipsed by ARM, which won the lion’s share of the processor market for smartphones and tablets.

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