back to article MIPS chip slips through Android compliance

A processor based on MIPS architecture has passed the Android Compatibility Test Suite, providing a welcome lifeline to the company whose share price has been in freefall lately. The chip comes from Beijing-based Ingenic Semiconductor, whose MIPS32-based SoC (System on a Chip) XBurst has passed the 24,000 tests required before …

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Why Intel?

Why would anyone want Intel in Android phones? The only advantage Intel processors have over ARM and MIPS is that it can run desktop Windows applications, and I see little use for that on an Android phone. With Intel processors, you could, of course, make dual-boot machines that can boot into both Android and Windows, but for Windows you want a desktop/laptop form factor and not a small touchscreen.

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It's Intel the industry is waiting for?

not really - what its waiting for is for old Windows to be able to run on handsets that can be used without asbestos gloves and a spare car battery in your pocket.

Its going to be too long a wait for everyone involved. The rest of us are ready for the leap into the 21stC

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Meh

One wonders

what the advantage of a MIPS processor over ARM is.

ARMs are already cheap-as-chips, low power, and easy to license. Several Chinese companies are already making SoC implementations, with graphic assists on the silicon, including Rockchip, who seem to produce millions of the things to go in chipod and apad type devices.

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Re: One wonders

MIPS has had a mature 64 bit variant for a long time, whereas ARM is still a 32 bit only platform. Not sure it that's something that interests makers of mobile phones, but it is a key difference between the two platforms.

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Competition

MIPS are also cheap as chips, low power and easy to licence. They're a competitor to ARM and I suppose may be preferable to some countries / suppliers over ARM. Quite a few SOCs especially video / audio chips for set top boxes & TVs are built around MIPS (e.g. Sigma Designs stuff) so by porting Android to MIPS you open up huge possibilities for the OS.

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Meh

Performance!

Some of us that specialize in embedded work actually wondered just the opposite. For instance if you had two identically configured systems but one is MIPS32r2 based and one is an ARMv7 and both are clocked at say 500MHz, the ARM system nominally would consume ~15% less power than the MIPS system but it would also suffer from a ~25% performance hit when compared to the MIPS system.

Similarly I worked at a company that specialized in low power x86 SOC designs back in 1996 and I was responsible for doing an exhaustive comparison of the available low power architectures at the time. In my report to my supervisor I told him that Motorola's M-Core architecture would perform better than ARM on a power usage basis but not on a performance basis.

ARM had also implemented a programmer accessible shadow register set, special interrupt processing and the THUMB instruction set and the writing was on the wall.

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Happy

Why MIPS?

You get more of them for a given clock speed than a typical ARM, that's why.

There is no such thing as a processing free lunch. The ARM is designed primarily to be a nanopower, small footprint, processor. It does this very well but its always struggled to get a decent throughput (I can't say much about modern ARMs but even the ARM7 used to struggle -- the things were great as controllers, not so hot as data movers unless given appropriate coprocessor support).

The MIPS has been used successfully in many network devices (and graphics cards) as the heavy lifter.

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Native Apps

I guess it will be no good for apps the use the NDK and only compile for ARM.

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Need a new NDK and virtualization

The NDK is gcc based so I see no reason that there can't be a MIPS version. Given that android has to be MIPS in the first place I assume the compiler already exists and the NDK sources and it's a matter of packaging it all up.

It does beg the question of why haven't Google moved to LLVM yet. They actually use LLVM in the Renderscript API in Android 3.0, but not in the NDK. If devs could target the LLVM and these apps were compiled natively during installation it would mean native performance regardless of architecture.

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Anonymous Coward

Please explain?

Why would anyone care about intel in this space? What is their unique selling point apart from being obscenely big that would make them gaining a little green robot would make anyone else jump with joy? Maybe I'm blind but I simply don't see it.

ARM works pretty well. Mips probably will. There's no need at all for x86 support with android, so what could intel bring to the party? Someone please explain?

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NDK

I guess that any apps using NDK won't currently work with this... e.g. Angry Birds that was quoted in the article.

Android Market should have enough control to only show NDK apps to devices with the correct chipsets, as it currently does with some graphic chipsets, but it's going to mean that most games and some other apps will need multiple releases from developers.

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Coat

A shot in the ARM for MIPS

Coat, going.

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