NEW YORK – As Imagination Technologies and CEVA bid for ownership, MIPS Technologies rolled out on Thursday (Dec. 6) what it calls Release 5 that includes virtualization and SIMD extensions to its base architecture. The company said the release of the new instruction sets is based on more than two years of work.
Mark Throndson, director of product marking at MIPS, acknowledged that “neither SIMD nor virtualization is a novel concept,” but stressed that Release 5 provides more computational capability with SIMD and enhanced security features with multiple OS support with virtualization.
MIPS Release 5 architecture
Separating the latest release from MIPS from others are: “scalable virtualization” across applications from microcontrollers to servers, and “a true RISC implementation” that makes the core extensible, Throndson noted. “Our team made sure to keep our RISC implementation simple and true to its RISC heritage.”
Release 5 also includes enhanced virtual addressing designed for more flexible definition of virtual address spaces and functions such as multi-threading and DSP. The extensions are “completely compatible” with MIPS 32 and MIPS 64 and microMIPS, according to the company.
MIPS Release 5 “will likely be the final architectural update from an independent MIPS,” noted J. Scott Gardner, a senior analyst with The Linley Group.
Release 5 also adds support for virtualization and vector processing, and “the MIPS architecture seems to have filled out its feature set to support existing customers for the next several years, whether in network equipment applications, digital home or mobile computing,” Gardner said. Since Imagination and CEVA the current bidders for MIPS, are both CPU IP companies, he added, “the MIPS team will need to support existing customers and continue to update the architecture" regardless of which company acquired MIPS.
Throndson said the impetus behind Release r5 included “security challenges for Internet-connected consumer devices [and] flexibility and programmable solutions” increasingly required for devices used in the digital living room.Virtualization
MIPS believes its virtualization module is critical to enhancing security features and supporting multiple operating systems. Across the home entertainment and mobile markets, Throndson said vendors are looking for hardware virtualization as more set-top boxes are connected to the Internet, as users access cloud services that require secure ID protection and as mobile payments increase.
Security needs are also increasing in embedded applications such as smart meters. The company also noted that “virtualization is also important in the enterprise, where it allows multiple operating systems and applications to run in parallel and enables workload consolidation.”