SGI to spin-off MIPS arm

SGI to spin-off MIPS arm
Tom Foremski Silicon Graphics is to spin-off its MIPS Technologies microprocessor subsidiary. It is part of the company’s repositioning under new CEO Richard Belluzzo, which includes the phasing out of its proprietary MIPS Risc microprocessor in favour of Intel’s 32-bit and 64-bit processors, and the laying off of 1,000 staff. How this cutback – representing ten per cent cut in its worldwide workforce – will affect UK staff is still unknown, the company said. Silicon Graphics will sell up to 20 per cent of its shares in MIPS by June and has already filed for an initial public offering. “It’s a smart move for SGI,” says industry analyst Andrew Allison, editor of the Inside the Computer Industry newsletter. “MIPS is the leading embedded microprocessor architecture and the valuation of fabless chip companies is very high.” Although Silicon Graphics is shelving its high-end MIPS processor development, Allison believes this will not affect MIPS Technologies. “The current R4000 and R5000 based products are good enough for the next two years and MIPS will have access to the high end R12000 and R14000 designs when they need them.” Silicon Graphics also said that it has a cross technology license agreement with Intel that will allow it to combine its graphics technology with the Intel architecture. “This is where Silicon Graphics will be able to differentiate its Intel/NT based systems from the competition, by layering its technologies on top of industry standards,” says Peter Glaskowsky, senior analyst at US-based MicroDesign Resources.


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