Consortium led by ARM buys MIPS portfolio

The last 10 days have been very busy for ARM as it led a consortium that purchased part of the patent portfolio of Sunnyvale-based MIPS Technologies, widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the RISC architecture.

This comes after the launch of a new 64-bit processor family and its first 64-bit products, the announcement of a new SIG, and further support for server-based ARM products from Linaro.

ARM contributed nearly half of the $350 million that will secure the rights to MIPS’ portfolio of 580 patents although the consortium, Allied Security Trust, will own 498 of them and Imagination Technologies, the remaining 82. The other influential members of the group include the likes of HP, Motorola, Intel, IBM, Research In Motion, Oracle and Philips.

Following the acquisition of MIPS, Imagination Technologies will be granted royalty free, perpetual access to the 498 patents and it appears that a patents trove rather than MIPS assets have been the major drive behind the acquisition.

Warren East, the CEO of ARM, said that the purchase represented “an opportunity for companies to neutralize any potential infringement risk from these patents in further development of advanced embedded technology.”

Now, here’s the funny bit. Should the new Imagination Technologies become a more aggressive player in the CPU field, one has to wonder how Apple and Intel will react given that they are both major shareholders in the company.