ARM Holdings has helped form a consortium that has bought the rights to the majority of the patent portfolio of rival RISC chip biz MIPS Technologies. MIPS could have been a contender for clients and servers but almost certainly won't be now. MIPS chips have a minimalist, low-power design much like the various ARM processors do …
I've had a cheap tablet with a MIPS processor running Android for the past few years and the battery life is outstanding.
Well, the good stuff will probably be found in ARM implementations soon. Is the instruction set really important anymore?
> Imagination says that MIPS will have to hold back $100m of the proceeds from the sales to cover taxes and other liabilities.
This irks me. Good money thrown into the swine's trough that won't be invested in useful things ... OM NOM NOM NOM.
>hold back $100m of the proceeds from the sales to cover taxes and other liabilities.
>irks me. Good money thrown into the swine's trough that won't be invested in useful things
What like schools, roads and police? For people that think all government is bad and any tax is wrong there is a libertarian paradise already waiting for you. Its called Somalia. If you want to see what the world would like under Ron Paul I recommend you rent Mad Max.
"The deal is a bit complex" seems to be putting it lightly
I've read through it twice and I'm still not sure who
is shagging owns who.
Interesting web that Imagination is weaving. Also interesting is the near 10% stake that Apple has in Imagination not to mention that PowerVR graphics cores are in all of Apples mobile products. Also Caustic Graphics...which produce real time Raytracing and was developed by ex-Apple engineers was also bought out by Imagination a couple of years back. Also Qualcomm has just licensed Imagination graphics IP.
Now comes Silicon Graphics (MIPS) IP into Imagination's stable......very interesting.....CUI BONO ?!
Re: Cui Bono...Apple?
Even more interesting is Intel's 15% stake in Imagination technologies
Re: Cui Bono...Apple?
I think apple want to buy imagination - but intel want to avoid that because they need imagination's GPUs in some of the chips. Hence apple buying a big chunk, and intel buying a bigger chunk as a signal.
BBC are reporting this as ARM & Imagination in competition
The Chinese Dragon CPU was a clone of MIPS, they officially licenced the technology eventually.
A way to differentiate
I'm sure Intel has a stake in Imagination so I Imagine Apple gadgets may eventually go that way.
They prefer not to compete but differentiate. An Intel Apple Imagination strategy for the future?
MIPS = TV
MIPS basically owns the cheap TV market; mostly because it's possible to produce a conformant MIPS implementation without having to pay royalties. Some TV manufacturers to produce entire chipsets based around designs they made themselves and royalty-free MIPS cores, with the end result that they don't have to pay *any* license fees... which means that they can undercut the ARM-based competition. (If this sounds familiar to ARM vs x86 in the phone market, well, it is.)
We have a pile of MIPS kit in our office, mostly set-top boxes and Android stuff. And you know what? It's really nice. Blisteringly fast, low power, easy to work with, very cheap, and good Linux support. As an example of the kind of horsepower we're talking about, one cheapo set-top box has a Mali GPU doing full-screen HDMI video and two MIPS cores with FPU. I'd be more than happy to see a MIPS based mini server based on this technology.
Re: MIPS = TV
Too right. Would those be 64-bit MIPS cores too? And the FPU is thrown in effectively gratis unlike most ARMs?
The funny thing is Imagination has it's own in-house 32 bit RISC. They were shooting for direct competition with ARM, supplying ready to go integration with PowerVR together with the necessary software tools.
I don't think Intel relies on PowerVR for anything does it? They already have low power versions of GMA on die with x86.
Re: MIPS = TV
Intel uses PowerVR graphics for both its smartphone (Medfield) and tablet (Clovertrail) Atom processors - SGX 540 and 545.
Re: MIPS = TV
"Intel uses PowerVR graphics for both its smartphone (Medfield) and tablet (Clovertrail) Atom processors - SGX 540 and 545."
Yeah....and we all know how well that is going for Intel .
Re: MIPS = TV
Don't know, actually; the software stack we were using was 32-bit and set up by the vendor, so it didn't occur to me to look to see if it supported 64-bit.
The MIPS ISA is a joy to work with, too (apart from delay slots, which are weird). It's consistent, flexible, expressive, consistent, simple, and has a bucketload of registers. It's also consistent. (Can you tell I've worked with x86 before?) The new ARM64 ISA is hilariously similar to MIPS. I don't blame them: wholesale theft is the sincerest form of flattery...
Not a slight on Imagination....but Intel's Medfield and Clovertrail.
I wouldn't write off MIPS quite yet
IIRC Tilera were doing some many-core (100+) CPUs based on MIPS.
You say it's game over for MIPS, others say it's an opportunity.
With ARM struggling to get into the server space, PowerVR being the GPU of choice in mobile, and MIPS having arguably an even stronger presence in the server space than Intel (in the form of the SGI/DEC heydays), it looks to me that Imagination is now actually a pretty serious threat to ARM's server initiative - given that supers these days are all ceepiegeepies, having MIPS+PowerVR is... another ceepiegeepie.
Also, don't forget that AST also has Intel as a consortium member.
I think I said game over, or maybe not. And I agree that there are interesting possibilities, which I will be talking to Imagination about to see what they think.
Why not the Chinese?
I'm vaguely wondering why didn't the Chinese (either directly through sovereign funds or through one of their large tech companies) buy a share (or in full) the MIPS technology. It would seem the perfect opportunity for them to own and control their very own architecture, instruction set, processor and platform. They already seem to use it in a lot of stuff - now they would have had a proper foot hold in the business - with possibilities of competing even more effectively against the likes of AMD, Intel, ARM and others.