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Imagination puts MIPS, Ensigma up for sale

Imagination puts MIPS, Ensigma up for sale

By Graham Prophet



However, that strength stood in part on licensing its PowerVR GPUs to Apple and Imagination has been pushed into further turmoil since it announced recently that it had been put on notice that Apple was going to stop paying royalties within 18 months to two years (see Apple dumping GPUs: Imagination in discussions).

Some may say the latest announcement as the beginning of the break-up of what had until recently been a pillar of UK and European technology.

Imagination released a trading update on May 4 for the year to April 30, 2017, saying that talks with Apple had not made satisfactory progress and that it had therefore entered into a dispute resolution procedure with Apple. In the same statement Imagination said it intends to sell its MIPS and Ensigma businesses.

MIPS was acquired by Imagination for $100 million in 2013 just as Imagination was coming under increasing pressure from rival IP licensor ARM, which was able to offer Cortex-A processor plus Mali GPU bundles. However, Imagination’s attempt to scale up with PowerVR GPUs and MIPS processors did not yield success leading to a management change and restructuring in 2016 and 2017.

Ensigma is Imagination’s home-grown portfolio of communications IP. Imagination had previously said that it would sell its Pure DAB radio business but under the pressure of Apple’s intention to stop using and paying for GPU IP more radical steps are being taken.

Ironically the trading update said that the company finished its fiscal year strongly and that the financial results are expected to be line with directors’ expectations and reflecting the restructuring implemented over the previous 15 months.

Imagination said that MIPS has seen design wins in networking, routers and DTV/STB and has made progress in the mobile LTE modem and industrial IoT markets. Imagination also underlines MIPS position in automotive through its relationship with Mobileye. Ensigma revenues more than doubled in the first half of FY17 and that momentum was maintained in the 2HF17, Imagination said.

Embedded system designers may be using the MIPS architecture [writes Graham Prophet, for eeDesignNews Europe] in the form of 32-bit microcontroller cores from Microchip. Microchip uses the microAptiv, M4K, and M-class cores in its range, covering a range of processing power with variants for sectors such as automotive and low-power designs. Following its acquisition of Atmel, Microchip is unusual in that it has both ARM- and MIPS-architecture products ‘under one roof’.

Related links and articles:

www.imgtec.com

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