Amit Rohatgi, vice president of segment marketing, at Imagination, acknowledged that while 80 to 85 percent of Android apps run well on MIPS, 15 to 20 percent of apps are natively compiled specific to its rival architectures [such as ARM].
This is a reality that could spell trouble for MIPS customers -- at least for the time being.
But one needs to look at a few long-term industry trends, Rohatgi explained.
One is Google’s latest view that “going native is generally not worth it,” as Rohatgi put it. The performance delta between native and non-native apps is fast approaching insignificance.
Most apps that are architecture-specific are games, sensitive to performance. Yet, in an example like ‘Temple Run,’ a graphically intensive video game, Rohatgi noted that the total code written to the system (and to run on CPU) is small, compared to code written to the Open GL, running on GPU. Most developers feel that it’s not worth developing games to a native platform, he said. In Rohatgi’s view, Native Development Kit -- libraries written in C and other languages to be compiled to ARM, MIPS or x86 native code and installed -- is passé. “The whole industry doesn’t want that.”
Another big industry trend to consider is a proliferation of portability tools. One good example is Renderscript, according to Rohatgi. It offers a platform-independent computation engine operating at the native level. Developers can use it to accelerate apps that require extensive computational horsepower.
There is also a new complier called ‘Clang’ -- designed under the LLVM umbrella. LLVM was developed to provide the middle layers of a complete compiler system, taking intermediate form code from a compiler and emitting an optimized intermediate form.
The combination of Clang and LLVM reportedly provides the lion’s share of a tool chain. Since Clang is built with a library-based design, like the rest of LLVM, Clang is said to be easy to embed into other applications.