back to article MIPS quietly bares its processor architecture to universities

The MIPS processor architecture behind many graphics cards and the PlayStation 2 is being laid bare by its licensee Imagination Technologies. While ARM and Intel dominate the chip market, the MIPS third option is still a significant player in the industry – but what goes on inside processors is a closely guarded secret. …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    The first time..?

    For the first time in the history of modern processors, a CPU architecture will be opened up to universities...

    OpenSparc or OpenRISC anyone? (I'm sure there are others out there)

  2. Ru'

    I know that if I don't understand it's not for me, but (sorry if I missed it) what does RTL mean?

    1. joeldillon

      Register Transfer Level.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Register-transfer_level

    2. The last doughnut

      Lost of bugs, usually

      RTL is the design source code. We haven't been using schematics to design logic circuits for years now. Instead we use a hardware description language at the register-transfer level.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Interesting

    While ARM is nice an ARM monopoly is no better eventually than an an x86-64 one.

    It's a pity that there seems to be so little diversity?

    Propeller

    Sparc

    Alpha

    PPC

    Transputer

    On microcontrollers there is less diversity too. Interesting that there are 50 cent 32bit ARMs competing now with 8 bit chips such as 8051, Atmel, Microchip PIC and embedded Z80 and 6502 in ASICs. The 32 bit ARM cores now in ASICs and FPGAs replacing old 8 bit cores.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      "Interesting that there are 50 cent 32bit ARMs competing now with 8 bit chips"

      They use less power and can do more much faster whilst generating less RF interference. (It was the FCC that killed the TRS-80 model1, not Tandy)

      Recall that the original ARM processor was famously fabbed without the Vcc connected to anything but still ran happily on leakage current.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        Recall that the original ARM processor was famously fabbed without the Vcc connected to anything but still ran happily on leakage current.

        Mentioned in this YouTube video by the man himself: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOJl8gRPyQ

    2. Eltonga
      Boffin

      Re: Interesting

      There is also TI's MSP430 series, that has a long history of low power consumption too.

  4. David Goadby

    Too little too late

    This seems like a desperate move to gain market share. But, if they "open" the architecture to university students how long do you think it will be before the whole information package is in the public domain?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Too little too late

      "This seems like a desperate move to gain market share"

      It is. The number of embedded linux-on-MIPS devices has dropped to almost-irrelevance thanks to widespread ARM takeup and MIPS is facing the same pressure everywhere.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the same MIPS that pursued Open Cores over MIPS-like clones: http://brej.org/yellow_star/letter.pdf

    I wonder if this move is simply too late, with the likes of Berkeley RISC-V instruction set being unencumbered by patent / copyright issues and already gaining traction in the education and open-source space.

    There's even a fully open source RISC-V ASIC in the works with novel features such as protocol offload and tagged memory. Look up the lowRISC project for details.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. ZSn

      While that is true of the first generation of SBCs the latest offerings like raspberry pi 2 are good enough for light desktop use. I wouldn't play games on them but for light bruising and the occasional document they're fine

    2. Roo
      Windows

      "Why can't I buy a decent quality ATX form factor UltraSPARC board, with enough slots for two or three network cards?"

      Ask Larry Ellison. Hint: Before asking the question you'll need to distract him from rolling around in huge piles of cash freely given to him by his hostages^wcustomers.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Ask Larry Ellison"

        Larry doesn't own SPARCs and Oracle don't ship many SPARC-based systems.

        Ask Fujitsu.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "if somebody somewhere would make some decent spec ATX form factor boards that take something other than an X86 processor."

      A decade ago I'd have pointed you to various ATX Alpha boards, but they're long-gone.

      AMD are semaphoring server boards which can take ARM or x86 but whether that ever makes it to consumer gear is an open question.

  7. Rob Crawford

    If they would open access to the graphics processor as well (a prior generation would be fine) then I would be jumping up and down.

    Many want a small machine with decent performance and graphics sub system without encumbering the thing with a linux distribution just to be able to access the graphics subsystem (that big binary blob that RPi users have to suffer)

    It's about time the something other than the linux monoculture was encouraged within small systems

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      So how do you access the graphics subsystem then? Do you hire a Maxwell's daemon to shift the bits or what?

  8. oldtaku

    This might help counteract some of the 'ewwwwww Cell processor' reaction people have when you say MIPS/PPC these days (if they even know what you're talking about, and didn't have a PPC Mac). The horrible architecture wasn't the CPU's fault, really!

  9. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Nobody cares about the core

    as the core is abstracted away by the compiler. What makes people care about an SoC is the peripherals on it. If MIPS would bring out an SoC with 100% open and well documented peripherals they would have an advantage over typical ARM SoCs as those are typically either not or badly documented, particularly when it comes to things like frame buffers.

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