Imagination Technologies (ImgTec) announced their intent to acquire Sunnyvale-based MIPS Technologies for $60 million in cash. This price includes the operating business as well as ownership of 82 patents relevant to the MIPS architecture. The 482 remaining patents in the MIPS portfolio have been sold for $350 million to Bridge Crossing LLC, but Imagination Tech retains a royalty-free, perpetual license to them. The acquisition is expected to close in Q1 2013.

The deal brings together 2 of the top 5 semiconductor design IP vendors and strengthens ImgTec's position and opportunities in the TV/set-top-box and networking markets. While ImgTec does have its own embedded Meta 32-bit CPU core, the MIPS cores complement this lineup with the popular 32-bit and 64-bit CPU applications processors.

While the ImgTec acquisition is straightforward, the acquisition of patents by Bridge Crossing LLC seems to be worthy of further analysis. While ImgTec and MIPS don't go into the details of the companies behind Bridge Crossing LLC, ARM has come out with a press release indicating that they are a leading member of the consortium. Out of the $350 million being shelled out, ARM is contributing $167.5 million. Bridge Crossing LLC expects to license out the patents to companies who aren't part of the consortium. The acquisition of the patents by a licensing authority is more of a defensive move to prevent valuable MIPS patents from being picked up by patent trolls. While we don't have the full list of companies behind the LLC, it appears that most of them are affiliated to the Allied Security Trust, whose members include Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel.

MIPS has also been making a little bit of headway into the mobile space (mainly in the Chinese market), but this deal cuts down the number of players in the mobile space from three (ARM, Intel and MIPS) to just ARM and Intel now. We usually don't comment too much on the financial aspects of such acquisitions, but it does appear as if ImgTec got itself a good deal in the process.

 

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  • DJTryHard - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Imagination Technologies are the ones that develop the PowerVR graphics. Reply
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Also worth noting they powered some Intel chipsets, where Intel are too lazy to make their own GPU (some Atom CPUs).
    As well as obviously lots of ARM based SoCs.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    The issue was that Intel's IGPs have historically been power hungry for their performance; when atom was just a minor sideline it was cheaper to license 3rd party IP. However, IIRC starting with Atom v2.0 next year they intend to go to an in house design permanently. Reply
  • deltatux - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Intel is one of the major shareholders in Imagination Technologies. Why wouldn't they not want to use PowerVR? Apple is another major shareholder as well. Reply
  • DERSS - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    So no wonder that Intel is going to drop its weak mobile graphics for much more powerful/effecient PowerVR.

    And, of course, Apple uses it as graphic coprocessors.
    Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't sing praise about Intel using PowerVR.

    PowerVR may have more performance than the GMA 950 based IGP's like the GMA 3100, however it's drivers are so so so so so so so so so baaaad, even worst than Intels which says something.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    What devices are you downloading drivers for, exactly? Last time I played around with _first-party_ PowerVR drivers was when I had a Kyro II. Their drivers were actually pretty good. They even later released one that did emulated hardware T&L in software, which allowed them to run many games that weren't intended to run on Series 3. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    Look at newegg reviews on the current generation of atom boards. Rage about the horrid powerVR drivers has crushed the rating on every single board. Reply
  • RicardoNeuer - Thursday, November 08, 2012 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
    http://goo.gl/025YD
    Reply
  • kitf - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    How do you know it's Imaginations fault rather than Intel's? Aren't Intel responsible for the driver bring up? Reply

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