Imagination Technologies, Apple partner and the source of the PowerVR GPU cores used in the company’s A-series iOS chips, has acquired MIPS for $60 million cash. That amount also includes 82 patents related to the firms MIPS processor architecture.
Another 580 patents and patent applications owned by MIPS were sold for $350 million to Bridge Crossing, a consortium that includes ARM and other members of the Allied Security Trust, including HP, IBM and Intel. The consortium works to prevent critical CPU patents from being obtained by patent trolls.
Apple licensed PowerVR GPU technology in 2008, when the company was expected by most to be using Intel’s Silverthorne (Atom) chips in its anticipated tablet. Instead, Apple developed its own custom chip design based on ARM CPU cores and PowerVR graphics cores. The design was dubbed the A4, and was used in the original model iPad and the iPhone 4.
Apple owns a 3% stake in Imagination, holding 8 million shares, and continues to use the company’s graphics in its chip designs.
Imagination gains access to MIPS CPU technology, allowing it to possibly take on ARM, the world leader in smartphone CPUs.
Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie said, “MIPS is the company that pioneered the RISC CPU architecture, I believe that the combination of our existing…CPU technologies…with MIPS’ capabilities will help us to create a new force to be reckoned with in the CPU IP market.”
The MIPS architecture was introduced in the early 80s as a new RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) design. MIPS was used widely in embedded devices, such as early Windows CE devices and Sony’s Playstation 2, and PSP, and Nintendo’s N64 game console.