LONDON Emphasizing the claims of open-ness made for the recently announced Mobile Industry Processor Interface Alliance an executive with ARM Ltd., the processor technology licensor, said that Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and MIPS Technologies Inc. would be welcome to join the MIPI alliance and hinted that one or more of these companies may already be in discussions to do so.
MIPI, founded by the world's leading phone maker Nokia and its key suppliers Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics and ARM, was announced Tuesday (see July 29 story).
Intel and Qualcomm, both licensees of ARM technology, are intense rivals to Texas Instruments, the leading supplier of system-on-chip silicon for mobile phone handsets. Qualcomm filed a complaint against Texas Instruments on Friday alleging breach of contract although Texas Instruments responded by saying it believed the suit was "without merit". MIPS has followed a similar business model to that of ARM although MIPS processor cores have not generally been used in portable equipment.
"I don't want to go into specific names of companies. We have approached a large number of what we would call leaders in the mobile industry," said Oliver Gunasekara, director of wireless within ARM's marketing organization. Gunasekara said the organization is open and that no approval is required to become an adopter member of MIPI and use the specifications laid down by the alliance, but that joining MIPI as a contributor would require the approval of the board of directors.
"Contributors are being limited to 20 or so companies to prevent the standard taking years to complete," Gunasekara told Silicon Strategies. He added that it was necessary for contributors to be seen as leaders in their field, to be prepared to volunteer experts' time for working groups, and to agree to abide by MIPI's intellectual property and membership rules.
Whe n asked if, given that Intel, Qualcomm and MIPS would participate on that basis, they would be accepted as contributor-level members Gunasekara said: "I don't think there would be a problem although it's up to the board to approve contributors. When we announce the make-up of the working groups I think you'll find many of the names you mentioned will be there," Gunasekara said.
Contributors have to be both approved and sponsored by the founder/promoter group who's nominees would form the board of directors of MIPI, according to a presentation that could be found here when this story was first posted. The presentation said that four founding companies -- Nokia, ARM, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments -- would have permanent seats on the MIPI board of directors whereas the remaining six seats would be elected for three-year terms of office.
It is intriguing whether a company such as Intel would be willing to be sponsored to join an industry organization or would be happy to join an organization in which other companies would enjoy advantages over it.
MIPI Membership fees vary between $10,000 per year as an adopter and $50,000 per year for the founders and promoter companies that whose nominees would form the board of directors. Companies with annual revenues of less than $250 million get a 50 percent discount on membership, the presentation said.