During my first trip to China a few years ago, I remember attending a presentation on the newly-announced MIPS Warrior CPU family. One of the keynote speakers used a line that has stuck in my head ever since:

The CPU can be a good controller – don’t let it control you.

He was absolutely right! At the end of the day, the CPU is one element in a complex System-on-Chip (SoC) that executes the instructions of a computer program. When in the market for new CPUs for a next-generation chipset, it is important to remember that you choose the CPU – and not the other way around.

In this article I would like to briefly present the case for MIPS by focusing on our diverse roadmap, describing the relevance of our ecosystem, and presenting a few customer success stories.

Our strategy for success

The recent momentum building behind MIPS comes off the back of the promise made when we acquired MIPS Technologies: to offer the electronics industry a real choice for CPU IP. In the past twelve months alone, we’ve signed several new licenses for MIPS CPUs in areas such as ADAS, HPC, embedded/IoT and data center applications and continued to build a solid ecosystem around the MIPS architecture that addresses the market requirements of our growing customer base. For example, MIPS continues to grow in the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) market, where it is already deployed inside 90% of existing platforms on the road today.

On the software side, we recently announced a collaboration with the Debian Project intended to accelerate Debian development for 64-bit MIPS CPUs. With these new devices, Debian developers will have access to a wide range of 32- and 64-bit MIPS-based platforms.

Thirdly, we’re creating a fast-growing, vibrant environment where universities and other academic institutions can use MIPS freely in their projects or courses. This is why we partnered with Microchip Technology and Digilent to bring the Connected MCU Lab, a semester-long curriculum designed to introduce electronic engineering and computer science undergrads to the IoT space. The course delivers an interactive and compelling start to connected embedded systems education – covering MCUs and input/output (I/O), real-time operating system concepts, advanced MIPS processor architecture and cloud connectivity – all presented in a fresh and jargon-free style.

A comprehensive product roadmap

We offer a complete and feature-rich CPU roadmap that covers all key market segments and performance points. Our MIPS Warrior family includes:

  • 32-bit MIPS P5600 and 64-bit MIPS P6600 CPUs for premium performance in mobile devices, DTVs, connected consumer devices and networking applications (residential gateways, 802.11ac routers, CPE modems, microservers, and others)
  • 64/32-bit MIPS I6400 CPUs for highly-efficient processors targeting mobile, embedded, DTVs, connected consumer devices, advanced communications, networking and storage
  • 32-bit MIPS M51xx and MIPS M62xx CPUs for all-out microcontroller and embedded processors, IoT, wearables, high-performance audio and connectivity applications

MIPS CPUs have unique features which lead to better performance at lower power and reduced area and create real product differentiation. For example, Warrior CPUs feature hardware virtualization across the entire range, enabling our partners to implement better multi-domain security solutions, protecting IP and providing a range of other benefits; you can see a demo of full hardware virtualization working on the M5150 MCU here.

Other select elements in MIPS Warrior cores include hardware multithreading, 128-bit SIMD and advanced DSP technologies.

Hear what our partners say

Imagination has a long-standing reputation for providing innovative IP and quality products; this encourages customers to return. We also foster new business by providing access to our IP for start-up companies through a range of commercial arrangements.

Suk Lee, senior director for TSMC: “Our collaboration with Imagination is helping to optimise future generations of our most advanced process technologies and system design techniques. We are looking forward to the continued expansion of our relationship with Imagination to encompass GPUs, CPUs and more.”

Manoj Gandhi, senior vice president and general manager for Synopsys: “Imagination Technologies is advancing the state-of-the art in technology with solutions such as their PowerVR GPUs, MIPS CPUs and other processors. Our collaboration with Imagination will help our partners bring-up and verify complex SoCs more quickly by taking advantage of our industry-leading emulation performance.”

Sumit Mitra, division vice president for Microchip: “Microchip Technology’s embedded design customers continue to benefit from our successful relationship with Imagination, via our best-in-class portfolio of 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers built around the industry-leading MIPS architecture. For microcontrollers, MIPS provides superior performance and more advanced features than the competition.”

Craig Miller, VP marketing for Sequans: “The power and cost efficiencies embodied in Imagination’s multi-threaded MIPS CPUs help us to create high-performance LTE solutions that deliver high throughput, low power consumption and high reliability in a small form factor at a competitive price.”

Motoaki Saito, M.D., Ph.D., PEZY founder, president and CEO: “To address important emerging opportunities in areas such as supercomputing and artificial intelligence, we are building a long-term strategic alliance with Imagination that we believe will change the HPC world and offer disruptive solutions in many other application areas as well. PEZY-SC2 powered by Imagination’s 64-bit MIPS Warrior CPUs will be more than a game changing processor in many ways and we are looking forward to propelling the technology advancements in the HPC world.”

Jongsung Lee, CEO of Standing Egg: “When it came to selecting a CPU, we chose MIPS for its outstanding performance efficiency and features. Its ability to handle sophisticated algorithms as well as its signal processing capability make the MIPS M5100 ideal for our next-generation sensor hubs, and we already have interest in these products from several customers.”

Svetlana Legostaeva, CEO of Baikal Electronics: “Our new MIPS-based communications processor, with its versatility, high-performance and energy efficiency, will rival the industry’s most advanced 32-bit communications chips.”

There is definitely an exciting momentum building up behind MIPS. If you want to take part in the next evolution of computing, get in touch with us now to learn how Imagination can help you.

About the author: Alex Voica

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Before deciding to pursue his dream of working in technology marketing, Alexandru held various engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies in Europe. His background also includes research in computer graphics and VR at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa. You can follow him on Twitter @alexvoica.

View all posts by Alex Voica