MIPS recently commissioned a survey to determine the top concerns among design engineers. The survey was performed by the independent technology marketing firm McClenahan Bruer Communications, which queried 110 engineers culled from a reputable, third-party database. The survey was one of the many pieces of supporting research for the May 10th launch of our new Aptiv™ Generation microprocessor cores.

The survey was kept very short, but covered several interesting topics that included multi-threading, multi-core, and sensitivity to power consumption. Responses confirmed that power consumption is a primary concern among design engineers, with 28% of respondents choosing this as their top concern, compared to 18% choosing the top concern of processor performance, and 18% choosing the top concern of raw processing power. Over three quarters of respondents reported feeling pressure to reduce power consumption without sacrificing performance; not surprisingly, nearly all surveyed indicated they would appreciate a new IP core that offered low power consumption without losing performance—who wouldn’t?

As the survey suggests, the demands of today’s applications are forcing design engineers to look for the holy grail of how to increase performance, while simultaneously reducing power. MIPS Technologies’ new Aptiv cores were designed to achieve top performance in their class – each achieves the highest published CoreMark/MHz score in their respective class – but delivers that performance very efficiently. The goal is to provide designers with a range of compelling options to satisfy this increasing challenge in their next designs.

One final nugget of info gleaned from the survey results – with 1/3 of the total votes, Star Wars rates as the best sci-fi movie, with 2001: A Space Odyssey coming in a distant second place. Other noteworthy mentions included Avatar and Blade Runner.

Below are some other select results of the survey:

  • 74% or respondents indicated that multi-threading capability is important for improving processor performance.
  • 52% of respondents indicated that the primary benefit of multi-threading is in helping to hit target performance at lower frequency;
  • 31% said its primary benefit is in reducing the need for additional processors.

The biggest challenges for respondents in their work, tied at 36% each, were cited as “time pressures” and “keeping up with the pace of technology.”

  • 11% of respondents said they are using more than four cores in their current design, another 34% said they expect to move to this number of cores in the next 12 months.
  • 74% of respondents are currently working with single or dual cores.
  • 93% of respondents felt the project they are currently working on would have some level of Internet connectivity.

About the author: Mark Throndson

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Mark Throndson has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, business development and sales management involving embedded processor and software technologies for companies including National Semiconductor, Hitachi, Ubicom, Kestrelink, MIPS and Imagination. Mr. Throndson holds a B.S. in Electronic Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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