24th February 2014

Imagination launches world’s first MCU-class CPU IP cores with hardware virtualization

MIPS Warrior M-class cores bring a new level of security and reliability to a wide range of entry-level smart embedded applications including IoT, wearables, automotive and more


Embedded World Conference, Nuremburg, Germany – 24 February, 2014 –Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) is rolling out the world’s first microcontroller (MCU) class CPU intellectual property (IP) cores that incorporate hardware virtualization – bringing a new level of flexibility, security and reliability to entry-level applications. The low-power, compact, real-time MIPS M-class M51xx cores form the first group of entry-level MIPS Series5 Warrior CPUs, achieving the highest CoreMark/MHz scores for MCU-class processors. The M51xx cores are ideal for industrial control, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, cloud computing, wireless communications, automotive, storage and other applications.

Says Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing, Imagination: “With the MIPS Series5 M-class IP cores, we believe we’re bringing fresh thinking to the embedded world. For example, virtualization has long been considered a powerful technology for use in high-end applications such as servers. Imagination has seen the trends leading to the need for more advanced multi-context security and multiple execution domains right across the CPU spectrum, which is why we’re now rolling out virtualization across our entire range of MIPS Series5 CPUs, including the new entry-level M51xx family.

“The exceptional performance and low power credentials of our latest M-class CPUs have already generated a lot of excitement with our key licensees and partners. And with advanced functionality such as virtualization, full FPUs and advanced DSP capabilities, complemented by mature tools both from ourselves and our ecosystem partners such as Mentor Graphics and Green Hills Software, we’re confident you’ll be hearing a lot more about MIPS embedded CPUs in the coolest and most disruptive chips and products.”

The first available M-class cores are the M5100 and the M5150. The M5100 integrates a real-time execution unit and SRAM controller, and is optimized for low-cost, low-power microcontroller applications. The M5150 incorporates the same execution unit as the M5100, and adds a programmable L1 instruction and data cache controller, as well as memory management support for high-performance Linux and RTOS embedded system applications.

Reflecting Imagination’s strength in embedded processing, previous-generation entry-level MIPS cores provide class-leading performance efficiency, and have been widely adopted across a broad array of applications. Imagination has already secured multiple licenses for the M51xx cores targeting embedded processing, automotive and beyond.

As with other MIPS Series5 cores, the M-class cores implement the MIPS Release 5 architecture incorporating hardware virtualization. The M51xx cores are based on the same 5-stage pipeline architecture and leverage the high performance, comprehensive digital signal processing (DSP)/SIMD features of the previous generation MIPS microAptiv family of cores, along with the microMIPS Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) which provides up to 30% code size reduction over 32-bit only code.

Virtualization: anticipating the needs of future

The addition of hardware virtualization to MCU-class cores provides increased security and reliability for a wide range of applications. Based on feedback from numerous partners, Imagination believes the need for virtualization is growing from the low end to the high end. This is why the entire line-up of Imagination’s MIPS Series5 Warrior cores, including the entry-level M-class, the mid-range I-class and the high-end P-class cores, all incorporate hardware virtualization technology, resulting in a unified security and virtualization strategy throughout the system and across the entire SoC.

With virtualization, multiple, unmodified, operating systems and applications can run independently and securely at the same time on a single, trusted platform. This delivers a range of benefits for system development, including:

  • Ability to execute multiple tasks in isolation
  • Intelligent resource allocation across several guests
  • Secure downloads/uploads
  • IP protection

Built-in prioritization mechanisms in the MIPS virtualization architecture, with support for up to seven secure/non-secure guests, enable it to optimally support real-time functionality.

In space-constrained, low-power systems such as IoT or wearable devices, virtualization could be used to implement a multiple-guest environment where one guest running a real-time kernel manages the secure transmission of sensor data, while another guest, under RTOS control, can provide the multimedia capabilities of the system. For applications that demand an even higher level of security, the new M-class cores include tamper resistant features that provide countermeasures to unwanted access to the processor operating state. A secure debug feature increases the benefit by preventing external debug probes from accessing and interrogating the core internals.

FPU: high-end performance, low-end size

The new M51xx cores also feature a Floating Point Unit (FPU) option supporting both single and double precision instructions for improved control systems processing. The FPU is well-proven, having been implemented in high-end MIPS cores.

Tools: everything you need

A broad range of development tools is already available for the M51xx cores, from Imagination and numerous companies across the MIPS embedded ecosystem, with additional support in development. This includes compilers from Mentor Graphics and Green Hills Software, as well as development boards and debug probes, plus Linux and various RTOSes including Imagination’s MeOS. In addition, several hypervisors for the M-class cores are available/under development from Imagination and leading third party hypervisor developers, enabling customers to take full advantage of the hardware virtualization features. This includes several open source hypervisors such as KVM, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine, and a microkernel hypervisor, both of which are available now for the M5150 core.

Availability

The MIPS M5150 and M5100 cores are available for licensing now. Contact info@imgtec.com for more information.

About MIPS processors

Imagination’s family of MIPS CPU IP cores are ideal for products where ultra-low power, compact silicon area and high levels of integration are required. The comprehensive portfolio of MIPS processor IP cores range from the smallest cores for 32-bit MCUs to high-performance 32-bit and 64-bit multi-core solutions. Based on a heritage of continuous innovations over more than three decades, including full support for 64-bit for more than 20 years, Imagination’s MIPS architecture is the industry’s most mature and efficient RISC architecture, delivering the highest performance and lowest power consumption in a given silicon area. Thanks to the clean architecture, small silicon area and advanced power and thermal efficiency of the MIPS architecture, SoC designers have the ideal CPU solution for any application from the highest performance network servers, to the most power-efficient mobile applications processors, down to the smallest deeply embedded microcontrollers for IoT.

The CPU IP cores comprising the MIPS Warrior family come in three performance/feature classes:

  • Warrior M-class: entry-level MIPS cores for embedded and microcontroller applications
  • Warrior I-class: mid-range, feature-rich MIPS CPUs
  • Warrior P-class: high-performance MIPS processors

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination is a global technology leader whose products touch the lives of billions of people throughout the world. The company’s broad range of silicon IP (intellectual property) includes the key multimedia, communications and general purpose processors needed to create the SoCs (Systems on Chips) that power all mobile, consumer, automotive, enterprise, infrastructure, IoT and embedded electronics. These are complemented by its unique software and cloud IP and system solution focus, enabling its licensees and partners get to market quickly by creating and leveraging highly differentiated SoC platforms. Imagination’s licensees include many of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and OEMs/ODMs who are creating some of the world’s most iconic and disruptive products. See: www.imgtec.com.

Follow Imagination on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, RSS, Facebook and Blog.

Imagination Technologies and the Imagination Technologies logo are trademarks of Imagination Technologies Limited and/or its affiliated group companies in the United Kingdom and/or other countries. All other logos, products, trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Imagination Technologies’ Press Contacts: 

UK: David Harold                      david.harold@imgtec.com         +44 (0)1923 260 511

USA: Jen Bernier-Santarini       jen.bernier@imgtec.com            +1 408-530-5178


All Press Releases