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rick merritt
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Informal MIPS poll
rick merritt   5/22/2014 10:19:52 AM
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Imagination Tech has clearly rallied some spirited interest in MIPS (~70 new licensees this year). Any plans to use the architecture?

rick merritt
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Fragmented open source
rick merritt   5/22/2014 10:38:55 AM
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Holy Cow, the Imagination press release really opened my eyes to how fragmented the world of open source--epseically Linux variants--is:

"prpl will contribute popular OS distributions for MIPS including Android, Arch Linux, CentOS, Chromium OS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, MEOS (MIPS Embedded OS), Montavista, OpenWrt, Redhat, Tizen, Ubuntu, WebOS and Yocto, with more to follow. Additionally there will be a wide open source code bank for: LLVM, kernel, UEFI, gcc, buildroot, MIPS optimizations/SDK, and more."

Yikes!

YANG.CHEN
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Re: Fragmented open source
YANG.CHEN   5/22/2014 11:36:32 AM
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Don't worry, Rick.  Each of these variant has its own targeted market. And it's a good think that there is a choice for developers. The fittest will survive. It's much better than the closed world of 10 or 20 years ago. 


pitbullofprogramming
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this means nothing without cheap development boards
pitbullofprogramming   5/22/2014 12:54:39 PM
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This means absolutely nothing without the availability of cheap development boards for software guys. For ARM you have a good number of sub-$200 boards avalable which can run Android, Linux, RTOSes, etc. Look at what is available for ARM. Everything from the very cheap Raspberry Pi ($25), to cheap + powerful BeagleBone Black ($60), to the affordable and very powerful Arndale Octa ($180). The Arndale Octa uses the same 8 core SoC used in Samsung Galaxy phones!!! Even Intel now has a Minnowboard family available for less than $200. Now can somebody provide me a similar list of boards available for MIPS? And I'm not talking about rooted MIPS-based tablets here.

Broadcom who I believe is MIPS' biggest customer has been notorious for closed source and very expensive reference design boards that require NDA license agreements. They may not even sell to you unless you plan to buy tons of chips. Yes they have the cheap ARM based Raspberry Pi but even that is not completely open. So again what does Broadcom have available for MIPS programmers?

This is one area which really hurt MIPS when competing against ARM. ARM had a huge advantage here since their licensees like Texas Instruments (Beagle, Panda) and Samsung (Origen, Arndale) subsidized cheap devboards and software development for their ecosystem. Those cheap boards enabled open source software guys to provide even more support for ARM. Meanwhile MIPS was forced to pay for a lot of this themselves or hope their licensees would contribute. I'm pretty sure these ARM licensees are not making money off these cheap devboards but they see the big picture with the software ecosystem support. I don't blame MIPS (now Imagination Tech) because they sell the IP, its the SoC vendors that should be subsidizing and enabling the production of these cheap dev boards for software guys to use. So let's see if this new project will still have MIPS programmers resorting to rooting tablets or hacking old Linksys routers to get cheap MIPS dev hardware.

rick merritt
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
rick merritt   5/22/2014 2:54:14 PM
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@pitbull: Maybe this is MIPS's chance to get into the Maker community. They mention it in their latest round of press releases so its on their minds.

Imagination Tech is eager to revitalize the MIPS architecture. I bet they would love it if someone released an Arduino compatible or came up with some new MIPS Maker board. It's an opportunity for someone, albeit maybe a small one for now.

betajet
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
betajet   5/22/2014 3:45:59 PM
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You can get reasonably inexpensive development boards for the Microchip PIC32 microcontrollers, which have 32-bit MIPS cores.  These are microcontrollers so not really enough resources to run a full-blown GNU/Linux desktop, but it's an inexpensive way to get started with MIPS.

 

rick merritt
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
rick merritt   5/23/2014 2:33:07 AM
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@betajet: Ah ha, the big missing company in prpl is MicroChip. Oughta be there, Mr. Sanghi!

przem
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
przem   5/23/2014 10:58:39 AM
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there's a ton of MIPS-based wireless routers, already running Linux, and they cost anywhere from $17 up, have few GB of flash and around GB of RAM, plus nice peripherals like wireless and sometimes USB. The OpenWRT/Tomato community has tons of info about reflashing them with custom Linux. Often you can get inside the box and get access to internal connectors such as serial ports, JTAG and GPIO.

In other words, you get a development board with wireless/wired network built in, in a nice case and with a power suply, for under $20.

axroh
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
axroh   5/23/2014 2:02:07 PM
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Totally agree with you. Hardware is coming, and will have twice the capability of the rasbpi (which is an awesome ecosystem enabler, hats off). No open source consorium can be complete without it, and the hardware needs to be cheap, available, and well supported. 

How does a dual core 1.2GHz MIPS32 with powerVR SGX540, dual usb, ethernet, wifi, hardware 1080p H.264 video decoding, audio decoding, camIF interface, 1GB ram, 4GB flash (+4GB optional), rasbpi header compatible, sub $50 board sound to you? Fully prpl certified - ie - kitkat 4.4 and linux/debian and openWrt support. Will be available in a couple of weeks - with several others to follow.

I want the developer community to rally behind such initiatives. Please keep giving your feedback! cheers, 

pitbullofprogramming
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Re: this means nothing without cheap development boards
pitbullofprogramming   5/24/2014 1:36:24 AM
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@axroh, I'll believe it when I see it. If I hear another person suggest hacking old routers to get a MIPS board I'm going to shoot myself. They just don't get it or they dont' understand what's going on with Arduino community. You need GPIO, I2C, SPI, and JTAG. For higher end apps you need video/audio and USB support.

I believe Microchip's PIC32 is a variant of the old MIPS 4K which is fine for low end devices. But if you want to run Android or OpenCV you need at least a MIPS 74K. So these new MIPS dev boards you are promising better be at least dual core 74Ks or better.

Microchip is the only MIPS licensee selling MIPS32 based boads. In fact they just recently announced something called chipKit(TM) which is supposed to be Arduino compatible. Apparently they got the message, but hey that is Microchips' market right? They have respond or else. Unfortunately, I believe they still use a proprietary toolchain? I think you have to pay if you want a non-crippled compiler? Meanwhile Linaro's optimizations for ARM go into GNU and LLVM toolchains which are available for free!!! This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about with advantages of ARM's software ecosystem. Availability of optimized ports of various libraries done by the open source community. All because they can get cheap hardware to do it on.

Time for MIPS vendors to step up or go home.

 

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