MIPS Open Initiative isn't anymore

Less than a year after it launched, the MIPS Open Initiative has apparently terminated. Despite the happy talk still up on the main site, and no sign of public notification, Hackster is reporting that Wave Computing has terminated the offering with an extract from a legal letter stating it became effective on November 14. The complete letter is posted here. Indeed, the new sign up page simply 404s, though as of this writing the GNU tools downloads are still up.

It's debatable how open MIPS Open Initiative really was, compared to, say, OpenPOWER (or RISC-V or OpenSPARC). MIPS Open had a more legally problematic licensing structure called "open use" which only allowed registered participants to develop under the MIPS Open Architecture 1.0 license, requiring prior approval and developers under the MOA-1 license "to provide upon request by MIPS or its authorized MIPS Open Verification Partner, information demonstrating that such implementation in its current format is a MIPS Open CERTIFIED Independent Core." No community governance existed and anecdotal reports circulated that gaining access to critical developer resources was arduous and bureaucratic. For OpenPOWER, however, all an implementor has to do is meet the specification and obey the trademark requirements. More importantly, now that OpenPOWER is part of the Linux Foundation IBM can't backtrack even if they wanted to (and it's pretty clear they're happy with the response to OpenPOWER so far). And the free VHDL implementation Microwatt is just a Github clone away.

Meanwhile, clearly Wave doesn't want people to realize what's happened, given how delayed the news has been and how little announcement they themselves have made. Even less clear is what prompted the withdrawal, but the most likely theory is Wave is planning to put MIPS up for sale. Funded as an AI startup and lacking customers, the last thing Wave's backers want is IP they can't unload for dollars, which may explain why Wave CEO Art Swift was pushed out after four months. The question is whether anyone is commercially interested anymore.