The RISC-V community is buoyed by Wave Computing, fresh from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reemerging with the name of its subsidiary MIPS Technologies to develop ... RISC-V chips.

This actually says less about RISC-V than it says about the new MIPS Technologies. You'll recall that MIPS Technologies, formerly Wave Computing, suspended the MIPS Open Initiative, apparently to position it for sale before they went under, and nobody bit. Understandably so: the once great architecture that powered the SGI MIPS workstations in my office (I own an Indy, an Indigo2 and a Fuel) has now been relegated to the "too cheap for ARM" embedded market, which coincidentally is exactly where RISC-V has gotten most of its design wins so far.

And Wave MIPS Technologies isn't giving anything up. There is no mention of the licensing program for MIPS-the-architecture ending, which means it remains in operation, and it remains closed. Indeed, Tallwood Venture Capital probably demanded it, as a hedge in case their efforts with RISC-V aren't sufficiently profitable. MIPS Technologies will be entering a crowded field with other established players, notably SiFive, and not a lot of extant IP to suggest they will substantially leapfrog those existing designs in performance or power usage (if at all). In that sense, this announcement is best seen as a cynical way to capture public interest rather than an important engineering leap, and the RISC-V community should not in any way conclude they have gained a valuable partner. If anything, they've failed to avoid a new, shadier member of the ecosystem who actually took steps to make their previous products less open. That's not a good look for an architecture that has made openness its defining characteristic.


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