Low-power computing specialist MIPS is being sold again, with artificial intelligence-focused Wave Computing its latest - and, hopefully, somewhat more permanent - owner.
Founded in 1984, Sunnyvale-based MIPS Computer Systems - later MIPS Technologies - is best known for the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture which bears its name. Having found a home in high-performance computers from the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Silicon Graphics (SGI) in the late 1980s, MIPS would be acquired by SGI in 1992 for $333 million. As SGI struggled to compete in the high-performance computing industry, however, SGI would turn to Intel processors to power its devices and spin MIPS back out again as a pure licensing company in June 2000. While its architecture has since vanished from the desktop, the low-power nature of the architecture lent itself well to embedded uses and can still be found in networking and industrial equipment today - an area Imagination Technologies, which acquired the company in 2012 for £60 million, pushed heavily.
Imagination's own money troubles, which began when it was dropped as a supplier by Apple, its biggest customer, saw MIPS put up for sale once again. Having been purchased by Tallwood Venture Capital in September last year, any hope of stability was dashed when Tallwood decided to sell MIPS on - and it has now found a buyer in Wave Computing.
'This is a major milestone not only in the history of our two companies, but also for the AI compute industry,' claims Derek Meyer, Wave Computing chief executive, of the deal. 'With working DPU [Dataflow Processing Unit] commercial silicon and being in the final stages of bringing our first AI systems to market, now is the time for us to expand to the Edge of Cloud. The acquisition of MIPS allows us to combine technologies to create products that will deliver a single "Datacentre-to-Edge" platform ideal for AI and deep learning. We’ve already received very strong and enthusiastic support from leading suppliers and strategic partners, as they affirm the value of data scientists being able to experiment, develop, test and deploy their neural networks on a common platform spanning to the Edge of Cloud.'
Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.