The first time..?
For the first time in the history of modern processors, a CPU architecture will be opened up 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. …
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?
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.
"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.
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.
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"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.
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
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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