A couple of things I forgot to mention in this story, which should matter if you are looking into Aptiv.
1. MIPS did tell us that they already picked up three licensees for the Aptiv family.
2. MIPS is making a headway in the so-called "eco-system," accorindg to MIPS. Philips recently launched its first tablet in China, using MIPS core running Android 4. Philips' tablet is fully certified as it passed Compatible Test Suite (CTS).
While it might be easy for new chip companies to go in for MIPS, I think one of the main issues with existing ones doing the shift is the extensive re-work of the internal software infrastructure. Current day SoCs need a fast turn around time, and the time needed to rework the software / debug with a new processor IP is just not there.
Getting licensees is one thing, having them tape out production silicon with that IP is another. MIPS needs its customers to show some working 1074K silicon in products fast. More than 18 months have passed since the 1074K was released for licensing. I haven't seen any SoCs announced with that processor.
I want MIPS to succeed against ARM as much as I want AMD to put up a good fight against Intel in the x86 space. Having choices with equivalent or better effectiveness and efficiency will be good for the ecosystem (chip companies and end consumers) as a whole.
@Junko: Very lucid story and feel very nice to read. Need more of similar coverage.
It is never too late. With these achievements, MIPS has potential for big market capture. Along with performance boost, they will also offer better customer support, reference designs, design reviews for customer and lower cost.
Sorry, but this is simply laughable. ARM has won the battle decisively.
It's really a sad story. Sandeep Vij was brought in as the savior. I think he is just basically getting his face rubbed into the pavement.
That's why he wants to sell. Only a fool would design in a processor from a company being sold.
The four reasons are trumpted, however, by this intention to sell the operation. It might be nice for the industry as a whole to have this second source, but who's going to commit to MIPS if they don't know whether it will survive, or in what form it will re-emerge after the presumed sale?
My thought upon reading the article? "Swan song."
Junko, nice piece. As you mention, competition is good. It is certainly not appropriate for me to provide specific feedback on the competitive positioning MIPS has shared as part of this product announcement. Suffice to say, we at ARM should not, and will not, disregard any new announcement of rival technology. With the Aptiv family spelling "M", "I" and "P" as you go up(With the Cortex family, we spelt A, R, M going down) , I assume MIPS is leaving a placeholder for an "S" family. Name guesses anyone? I am somewhat surprised at the timing and nature of the release......I had assumed that MIPS would be releasing more details about their 64-bit "Prodigy" core, announced in early 2011. But, like ARM, MIPS clearly see a contined strong market for 32-bit processors
"ARM has won the battle decisively."
They've won the battle, but have they won the war? With smartphones, the instruction set doesn't matter because you don't run compiled code, so it is ALL about processor power and battery life.
If Samsung/Nokia/HTC/whoever could come out with a phone that was faster than anyone else's yet the battery lasted longer, then that phone would own the market.
Because of this, companies would spare no expense to solve the 'reworking of internal software infrastructure' issue.
But ARM is a moving target. It remains to be seen whether MIPS can truly have enough of a technical lead for long enough to get the design wins.
"you don't run compiled code" - sorry?
And if the main objective is high performance with low power consumption you are not going to optimise that whilst having multiple layers of interpreter and virtualization, because you will be running more code than necessary.
I was thinking of Android, not iPhone. Android apps are not compiled code--you can even run them on an Android simulator running on your PC (and the simulator isn't simulating Arm assembly code).
In fact, Motorola is coming out with an Android phone that uses an Intel Atom processor later this year.
Certainly Android itself has to be compiled to run on the processor. But from a customer point of view, any processor will run the apps, so they will tend to prefer the phone that runs the fastest with the longest battery life.
Are you sure that no Android app uses compiled code? You should talk to Ingenic and its customers or to Philips China. I bet that if you try any of these 7" tablets in US or in Europe, you are going to see something broken. In the ideal world, there is no compiled code, in the real world, optimization will inevitably lead to the necessity of compiled codes.
ARM is stable and things work. Porting to a different processor has huge risk. Anyone that tells me that switching processors is a breeze I do not believe.
Anyway, I'm sure the moral there is completely in the toilet. What are the MIPS employees doing? Brushing up the resume to go to ARM, Intel, Freescale, Cavium, Broadcom, etc... If they are smart.
As a member of the MIPS engineering team, I can tell you that I am working on some of the most exciting and challenging work of my career. These are not minor updates to old products, but completely new architectures built upon MIPS’ deep expertise in processor architecture. Some of the engineers I work with daily are from the original Silicon Graphics MIPS team, and others are from well-known processor companies. The work here is intense, exciting and continually intellectually challenging. Sitting next to me is a compiler team working on sophisticated projects, down the hall is a CAD team working on advanced nodes and on the other side of me are engineers working on OoOE pipelines. Our software team is doing amazing work, having recently completed the work necessary to get our NDK into the official Android source tree. In this highly competitive market, we have agility, expertise, and a fast and exciting work environment.
We can also see the fact ARM vs. MIPS from the silicon process point of view. ARM is now moving forward to the 22nm process. MIPS is far behind ARM in terms of the silicon process but MIPS still has some advantage for cost and energy consumption if they start using a 32nm process.
regarding the (mistaken) claim that ARM has already won: observe that pretty much all wifi routers are MIPS, not to mention a lot of NAS and other embedded networking. those are a lot less salient as the ARM in your phone, but at least as significant in ecosystem.