Chip designer Imagination Technologies is buying US central processing unit architect Mips's business operations and some of its patents.
Imagination said Tuesday it has agreed to buy MIPS' operating business for $60 million. Under terms of the deal, Imagination will gain 160 engineers and 82 MIPS patents. The move is viewed as a way for Imagination to beef up its CPU core expertise while defending its graphics lead. It would also position Imagination to competing against ARM, which has been pursuing its integrated CPU-GPU solution strategy.
Separately, ARM said it will lead a consortium buying the rights to the MIPS portfolio of 580 patents. The consortium, called Bridge Crossing LLC, will pay $450 million in cash to purchase the rights to the portfolio, of which ARM will contribute $167.5 million.
Both transactions are subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of MIPS' shareholders, who will vote separately on each of the transactions. Approval of the Bridge Crossing transaction is not subject to shareholder approval of the Imagination acquisition.
Both transactions are expected to close in the first quarter of 2013, according to Imagination and ARM.
"After a thorough review of a wide range of alternatives to enhance shareholder value, our Board of Directors concluded that the best alternative for the Company would be the sale of patent properties to a consortium formed by AST, and a sale of the Company to Imagination. Importantly, as part of Imagination, the MIPS architecture will continue to be supported, and protected by MIPS patents. This highly successful outcome builds upon the rich heritage of the MIPS processor architecture, while effectively monetizing the Company's valuable patent portfolio," said Sandeep Vij, CEO of MIPS.
Mr. Vij continued, "By combining the technologies and skills of MIPS and Imagination, a leading multimedia, communications and embedded processor technology company, we believe that we can together create a powerful, well-differentiated and highly influential alternative to existing CPUs in the market. The move is highly strategic and presents clear benefits to MIPS' customers, employees, and partners."
According to Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination Technologies, "The MIPS architecture is widely respected, and is complementary to Imagination's existing CPU capabilities. I believe that this proposed transaction will be welcomed by both companies' customers, including our mutual partners, and by the electronics industry at large. Post deal closure, Imagination will continue to support and expand the MIPS architecture and ecosystem, with the combined effort aiming to create a new industry-leading force in CPU development and licensing."
Imagination's graphic processor designs are used on Apple's latest iPads and the iPhone 5. Just like its competitor ARM, the company licenses the technology necessary to build processors but doesn't build any on its own.