Print 18 comment(s) - last by fteoath64.. on Jun 29 at 4:29 AM

New design from Imagination Technologies offers yet another competitor in the booming mobile market

In the world of RISC (reduced instruction set computer) architectures the game is officially on.  Imagination Technologies Group Plc (LON:IMG) today previewed [press release] its first 32-bit and 64-bit MIPS CPU cores targeting the mobile market, a market in which ARM Holdings Plc's (LON:ARM) titular RISC core has reigned dominant for so long.

Imagination Tech. has long licensed graphics processing unit companion cores to go alongside ARM or Intel Corp. (INTC) Atom CPU cores.  In a sense both ARM and Intel have historically been more diversified as they produce GPU cores, as well.  But with its acquisition of MIPS Technology Inc. last November, Imagination Tech. looked to level the playing field.

Before, the mobile market looked like a race between Intel and ARM.  Now Imagination Tech. is determined to make it a three-man race.

The new MIPS CPU cores, dubbed Series5 "Warrior" cores will offer some unique perks.  First, they bring support for single instruction multiple data (SIMD) programming APIs like OpenCL (NVIDIA Corp.'s (NVDA) CUDA is another proprietary SIMD API).  Second, they offer built-in security features, including processing units designed to accelerate content protection, secure networking protocols and payment services.

MIPS roadmap
MIPS roadmap [click to enlarge]

Lastly, Imagination Tech. is plugging built in hardware and software virtualization support in the upcoming core series.  The company says its aiming to target "a wide range of markets, from mobile and networking to embedded and microcontroller applications."

In other words, expect some OEMs to potentially test the waters with Android-driven Warrior core smartphone and tablet designs.
MIPS Android
Just how valuable is the mobile CPU market?  Consider that ARM pocketed $136M USD on a gaudy 50.5 percent operating margin in Q1 2013.  Imagination Tech. is likely salivating at the potential for that kind of licensing loot.

The one thing that's unclear is when exactly the "Warrior" cores will hit the market.  Imagination Tech. offered no release schedule.  Imagination Tech. is also winding up to the release of a new GPU core, the PowerVR Series6 core, which offers support for OpenGL ES 3.0 for the first time.

Source: Imagination Tech. [press release]

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MIPS is great
By Ammohunt on 6/26/2013 7:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
Its a great architecture and a great company; Just FYI the PS1 had a R3000A in it. as long as power consumption is in line I see no reason MIPS couldn't compete head to head with ARM.

RE: MIPS is great
By rudolphna on 6/26/2013 9:07:00 PM , Rating: 3
The N64 used a MIPS R4300 manufactured by NEC too, paired with a GPU/chipset from SGI.

RE: MIPS is great
By CZroe on 6/28/2013 5:43:19 PM , Rating: 2
The accelerator (GPU was coined for the GeForce 256 and anything else capable the same performance) was designed by the team that would later form ArtX. ATI bought them just to get their name on the GameCube and form a second Radeon team with each team releasing a new part every year. Their first card was the incredible Radeon 9700 Pro that completely blew the GeForce FX out of the water and convinced ATI to use them for all GPUs going forward (probably folded them into one team). I've always owned nvidia GPUs but I remember cringing when a QuakeCon 2003 attendee smashed his ATI Radeon 9800 Pro to earn a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. :(

RE: MIPS is great
By bug77 on 6/27/2013 5:19:22 AM , Rating: 2
It may be great, but PowerVR hasn't been very open source friendly.

Not that I'm an OSS zealot (I buy nvidia for proper Linux support), but just saying.

RE: MIPS is great
By Argon18 on 6/27/2013 10:57:20 AM , Rating: 1
Old SGI workstations all used MIPS as well. R4300, R5000, R10k, R12k, and R16k chips.

RE: MIPS is great
By swaaye on 6/28/2013 5:14:35 PM , Rating: 2
R8000 baby.

RE: MIPS is great
By fteoath64 on 6/29/2013 4:29:39 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with MIPS is that the binaries are huge!. For those who has been thru the SuperH vs MIPS "wars" during the PocketPC days, you will know why the SuperH won!. MIPs really was meant for "big iron" processors, so to optimise it for mobile would not really make sense. Imagination Tech can try but it is a "lost" technology not worth salvaging ....

These guys are dead or bought
By TheJian on 6/27/2013 7:02:47 AM , Rating: 2
They had to borrow 20mil to buy a 100mil mips company. Meanwhile companies like NV have 3.7B in the bank and purchase companies like Icera for 327mil cash and NV is very small compared to say ARM with 40B in the bank, samsung pulling down 7B last quarter and looking likely to pull down 10B this quarter (I mean they sold 10mil gs4's in ONE month, double gs3 so far or more it seems), Intel at 2.5B for the Q etc. These guys are BROKE in comparison and everyone else will bleed them to death.

The move to mips was the only one they had, but they are both too small to matter. I would not OWN their stock. I see a downward trend from here on out. They may be in nearly every apple mobile device sold today but it isn't making them a dime. If memory serves they only made 14mil TTM. How can you compete with even tiny companies like NV making ~600mil/year? They will all R&D you to death. Also, they missed the modem purchase fest. This held back every tegra model until now. Only T4i resolves it, which is why sales have not breached 1B revenue for Tegra YET. It's also why they will with T4/T4i finally. IMG.L revenue for TTM was only 151mil. Clearly being apple's top gpu supplier in a soc means nothing huh? That number is REVENUE, and only 14mil profit on it. That sucks. You're dead.

RE: These guys are dead or bought
By Strunf on 6/27/2013 7:27:09 AM , Rating: 2
I had MIPS stocks before they got bought, made a nice profit with it.

Small heavily specialized companies are much more efficient than bigger companies, sure nVIDIA can R&D them to death but then they would have less money to be spent elsewhere.

RE: These guys are dead or bought
By TheJian on 6/27/2013 7:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
They only spend on gpu's and socs (shield and grid cost 10mil each so next to nothing to further the gpu's and socs).

What elsewhere? They've made Socs integral to their company across the board now, so a good 1/3-1/2 of their company is now aimed at taking out IMG.L etc.

But I cited them as the PUNY guy in the room. If they don't get you, Qcom, Intel, Samsung, Apple etc will (the big boys so to speak). My example was just to show how bad it is vs the smallest guy in the group already but noted the big boys cash wads to further the point. You can't survive making 14mil/yr in a business where the rest are sitting on billions in cash and aiming the bulk of their R&D efforts at your product line. I don't see how a company who has to borrow money to get a cpu, has no modem, makes basically no money (14mil?) etc can survive this war.

But if you're in when they get bought (apple?) maybe a good deal :) No argument there, but it's risky. Most already have their own socs. Apple already bought PA Semi etc, so don't see a real need there. NV doing their own (denver boulder) cpu and already of course have years of gpu's to toss desktops at mobile socs. I guess samsung needs a gpu company (cpu as a bonus I guess). Not many other buyers in the mix I'd think. Intel is pretty out of this also given their roadmaps don't require either a cpu or gpu it seems. You did well on mips, but I'm thinking IMG.L is a bit risky comparatively speaking.

RE: These guys are dead or bought
By simsony on 6/28/2013 12:10:37 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're a bit too fixated on the smartphone market, the point is while the bigger guys are chasing the smartphone market, this mips processor could be used in other markets.

I'm not saying they have an easy job, indeed Nvidia failing in the smartphone market could lead them straight to the markets Imagination would like to take on.

By Shadowself on 6/26/2013 7:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
The last time I bought a MIPS box was, IIRC, a MIPS R1000 back in '89. I'm just a little bit surprised they're still around after the Silicon Graphics fiasco many years ago. I don't think I've heard anything concrete about them in a few years!

RE: Wow
By swaaye on 6/28/2013 5:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
They have been in loads of cheap devices. Lots of consumer internet devices for example. Not exactly much like their glory days of the '80s/90s though.

Oh Please Oh Pleas Oh Please
By Schmide on 6/26/2013 10:48:20 PM , Rating: 2
Make me an Amiga phone!

By StormyKnight on 6/27/2013 11:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
Do you hear that? I think that is Jay Miner spinning in his grave!

I am the warrior!
By Motoman on 6/26/2013 6:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
What a shame
By pluto7777 on 6/28/2013 3:25:04 AM , Rating: 2
It's a real shame Imagination Technologies bought MIPS. They have proven time and time again they don't care about open source.

I like it
By Lord_Conrad on 6/28/2013 6:02:44 AM , Rating: 2
"A game of RISC"

I see what you did there.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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