Wave Computing Closes Its MIPS Open Initiative with Immediate Effect, Zero Warning

Open ISA project no longer in effect, with existing users given 30 days to square their certification with Wave's legal team.

Gareth Halfacree
5 years agoHW101

Wave Computing has announced the immediate closure of the MIPS Open Initiative, a programme which provided royalty-free access to the MIPS architecture and cores based around it, less than a year after its launch.

"Having spent years in the open source technology movement, I can attest to the hunger for community-driven solutions," said Art Swift, president of the MIPS division Wave Computing acquired from Imagination Technologies in June 2018, when his company launched the MIPS Open Initiative in December 2018. "However, until now, there has been a lack of open source access to true industry-standard, patent-protected, and silicon-proven RISC architectures. The overwhelmingly positive response we have received thus far from customers on our MIPS Open initiative is an indication of the dramatic, positive impact we believe the program will have on the industry. We invite the worldwide community to join us in this exciting journey and look forward to seeing the many MIPS-based innovations that result."

The release that followed, however, wasn't quite as open as first billed: Unlike truly open instruction set architectures including RISC-V and OpenSPARC, MIPS Open was provided under an "open use" licence - allowing developers who have registered with Wave Computing to access the IP under a custom MIPS Open Architecture 1.0 licence which provided for manufacturing or commercialisation exclusively as what the company described as "MIPS Open CERTIFIED Independent Core."

More problematical was a covenant in the licence which required anyone building a MIPS Open part to "perpetually and irrevocably agree that You will not enforce or assert, or authorise or assist any third party (including any affiliate) to enforce or assert, any MIPS Blocking Patents in connection with, or in a manner which in any way limits, hampers or prevents, the use, design, development, modification, enhancement, testing, making, copying, offering to sell, selling, importing and licensing or other distribution, by any MIPS Community Member of (a) MIPS Products or any implementation thereof (whether unmodified or as components of or incorporated in products), and (b) tools pertaining to MIPS Products."

Now, less than a year after opening the programme and just eight months after releasing its first cores, MIPS Open is officially dead — with, Wave Computing's legal department warns, immediate effect.

"Wave Computing, Inc. and its subsidiaries ('Wave') regretfully announce the closing of the MIPS Open Initiative ('MIPS Open'), and hereby give Notice of the same effective November 14, 2019 ('Effective Date')," the company's brief email to registered MIPS Open users reads. "Effective immediately, Wave will no longer be offering free downloads of MIPS Open components, including the MIPS architecture, cores, tools, IDE, simulators, FPGA packages, and/or any software code or computer hardware related thereto, licensed under any of the (i) MIPS Open Architecture License Agreement (ver. 1.0), (ii) MIPS Open Core License Agreement ver. 1.0 For the microAptiv UC Core, (iii) MIPS Open Core License Agreement ver. 1.0 For the microAptiv UP Core, and/or (iv) MIPS Open FPGA License Agreement ver. 1.0 (collectively, 'MIPS Open Components'. In addition, all MIPS Open accounts will be closed as of the Effective Date.

"While current active licenses and previous downloads of MIPS Open Components, and any certifications related thereto, will continue to be honoured, Wave recommends its developers, partners and customers restrict further development, as Wave will no longer provide maintenance or support for any of the MIPS Open Components licensed under MIPS Open. In addition, Wave is no longer authorising any third-party certifications as of the Effective Date."

Thus far, the company has not given a reason for the closure of the MIPS Open Initiative - nor explained why it has opted to do so with immediate effect, rather than giving those who had begun building around the architecture fair warning of its plans.

Anyone currently working on MIPS Open projects is advised to contact Wave Computing on the email address legal@mipsopen.com within the next 30 days in order to certify any components previously downloaded.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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