Wave Computing has officially shuttered its MIPS Open programme, providing “open use” to selected MIPS core IP and the underlying instruction set architecture, less than a year after the initiative was launched – and with zero advance warning.
Wave Computing, which acquired the rights to the proprietary MIPS ISA and core IP from Imagination Technologies in mid-2018, announced the MIPS Open Initiative back in December last year. “Having spent years in the open source technology movement, I can attest to the hunger for community-driven solutions,” Wave Computing’s Art Swift claimed at the time. “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 actual release of anything under MIPS Open, however, wouldn’t take place until March this year – and it would come under a custom licence which included onerous restrictions on exactly what a MIPS Open user can and cannot do with the IP provided. Accordingly, its adoption has been slow – which is just as well, given that as of late yesterday the programme has been shuttered and the MIPS ISA returned to its prior proprietary status.
In an email sent to registered MIPS Open members last night, Wave Computing’s legal department advised that the MIPS Open Initiative was to shutter with immediate effect. All previously-available downloads have been removed from the MIPS Open website, and all MIPS Open accounts closed with no warning. Although the company has stated it will continue to honour existing licensed downloads and related certifications, it advises that it will “no longer provide maintenance or support” – and requires anyone currently using MIPS Open to email it on firstname.lastname@example.org within 30 days of the the notification to remain licensed and certified.
While the move may not be surprising overall – while relatively popular in its proprietary form, MIPS Open uptake has been extremely slow in comparison to far more open rivals like RISC-V and OpenSPARC – Wave Computing’s decision to withdraw everything with zero notice is certainly unusual, and leaves anyone who had been working on MIPS Open projects in a sticky situation.