Cavium likely sticks to licensing
Currently, MIPS has no 64-bit cores, but it licenses its 64-bit architecture mainly to Cavium Networks and NetLogic who build their own cores for networking chips. Licensing royalties for the 64-bit architecture make up 15 percent of MIPS' current revenues.
A Cavium spokesperson said the company is likely to continue building its own cores rather than using Prodigy. Cavium has been designing its own MIPS cores for eight years, using optimized instructions and coprocessors for its networking apps. Cavium's MIPS cores already execute two instructions per clock.
MIPS believes Prodigy could be adopted initially by networking chips, and eventually by consumer and mobile processors.
"Entertainment and mobile processors will move to 64-bits very soon," said Gideon Intrater, vice president of product marketing at MIPS. "We believe the switch from 32 to 64 bits for these apps will happen in the life of this Prodigy family," he said.
"We're seeing set-top boxes with more than a Gbyte of memory today," he added.
Google Android, Linux and Wind River's VxWorks already support the MIPS 64-bit architecture. The 64-bit chips will run 32-bit MIPS software without modification.
Prodigy will use a symmetrical multithreading approach similar to that on the current MIPS 34K and 1004K processors. It also will support thread contexts, virtual processing elements and inter-thread communications.
Quality of service will be supported through a thread scheduler. Programmers can "park" a thread until an external event triggers it to resume execution.
MIPS claims a third of its revenues come from 32-bit chips that support multithreading. The company has 35 licensees of its multithreading technology—mainly second-tier and startup companies including Altair Semiconductor, Mobileye, PMC-Sierra, Ralink, Realtek, Sigma Designs and ViXS Systems.