NEW YORK – MIPS Technologies, Inc. launched today a new processor IP core designed for consumer electronics chip vendors to develop high-performance multicore, multi-threaded SoCs with ease.
Called MIPS32 1074K Coherent Processing System, the new processor is a fully-synthesizable multicore IP. With 1074K, MIPS claims that chip vendors can get the high performance of a custom implementation with an off-the-shelf CPU core.
The premise of MIPS’s new 1074K is straightforward: The demand for multicore, multi-threaded processing platforms is rapidly spreading from high-end network processors -- used in data centers or operators’ network infrastructures -- to advanced SoCs in connected digital consumer electronics devices.
According to Mark Throndson, director of marketing at MIPS, the 1074K coherent processing system (CPS) is “the second-generation effort in the evolution of MIPS’ coherent multiprocessing platforms.” It’s designed to “hit the top end of MIPS’ performance lineup in a small footprint.”
MIPS will next month (October) start making the new 1074K CPS available. While more than 20 companies are already licensees of MIPS’ 74K core, many are believed to be interested in multicore platform solutions such as 1074K. MIPS already has at least “one lead licensee signed up for 1074K,” according to Art Swift, vice president of marketing at MIPS.
Why do consumer electronics chips need a multicore, multi-threaded solution?
Tony Massimini, chief of technology at Semico Research Corp.,argues that there is "already plenty of processing power" in chips used in set-tops, IPTV or Blu-ray.
While describing MIPS' 1074K "seemingly an overkill," Massimini noted, "OEMs want plenty of overhead in order to further enhance the systems." He added that these products need to be deployed for many years. As content and services continue to develop no one wants to replace a box." Also, more processing power and multi-core designs enable more efficient operation which can lower overall power consumption, Massimini explained. "This results in less costly heat sinking solutions, inlcuding reducing or eleiminating a fan. Lower power consumption also means a smaller power supply and sleeker designs."
But after all, according to MIPS, ubiquitous web connectivity is driving every new consumer electronics device – ranging from set-tops to Blu-ray and digital TV – to respond to the new usage models (yes, consumers will watch broadcast programs now available on the web -- in their living rooms). This trend requires each device to be much more Web-savvy, running at a higher speed and offering higher performance.
Take the example of a set-top box. It’s no longer a pie-in-the-sky scenario for the next-generation cable box to integrate Web connectivity, many channel PVR and multi-room server in one box. The next-generation residential gateway system is also expected to feature functions that include modem, router, Wi-Fi, Voice over IP to network-attached storage and print server.
Such functional integrations are creating a growing demand for a new high-end solution such as a 1074 CPS, according to MIPS’ Throndson.
Surely, MIPS licensees like Sigma Design are already using multiple MIPS cores in their SoCs. But such an SoC is usually partitioned by hardware, designating one processor core for I/O, one for audio and another for running primary applications, for example. “It isn’t a single, unified processing hardware,” said Throndson.
In contrast, 1074K CPS can offer a high degree of parallelism, under which the coherence management unit knows exactly what each core is doing, as it pays attention to how multiple cores are running one set of the latest relevant data.