MIPS aims challenge at ARM tablet dominance

MIPS aims challenge at ARM tablet dominance

Summary: Displaying a new processor design, MIPS Technologies hopes to challenge ARM's reach in the high-end mobile device market.

TOPICS: ARM, Processors

Revealing a new processor design, MIPS Technologies hopes to challenge ARM's reach in the high-end mobile device market.

PC World reports that the semiconductor design company presented its new design at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley on Tuesday.


Better known for its chips used in home entertainment, including televisions and Blu-ray players, MIPS chips are also featured in several tablets. Usually, their processors are found in low-end Android models sold in emerging markets -- including China and Indonesia.

However, the chip maker hopes to move up the pack with a new design called proAptiv, which implements its MIPS32 architecture.

The company claims that the proAptiv core will be half the size of ARM's anticipated Cortex-A15 CPU, but will offer the same performance -- if not more.

Considering it a direct competitor, the corporation hopes that the design will be snapped up by developers of smartphones and tablets which could compete with Apple's mobile products -- something which is not necessarily feasible in the current market.

California-based MIPS doesn't manufacture chips itself -- like ARM -- but instead licenses its designs to other companies. According to the company, the prototype will be ready for license by the end of September at the latest. However, as it takes an average of 18 months to transform a CPU design into a workable system chip, it is unlikely that smartphones or tablets will feature proAptiv for at least two years.

The chip maker expects the license fee will be lower than ARMs fees, and the smaller die size will lessen power consumption and cut silicon costs. Therefore, if the performance does come up to scratch, it could be an attract prospect for manufacturers.

Chris Rowen, founder and CTO of processor core design and license firm Tensilica told the publication:

"Building a high quality architecture -- and there's every reason to think proAptiv fits that category -- gives them a shot. But it's also the case they have to play the game around ARM's rules, and that's tough."

Topics: ARM, Processors

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  • World’s Second-Most Popular Processor Architecture ...

    ... mounting a robust challenge to the first.

    Google’s Android Native Developer Kit gained the option to generate code for MIPS a revision or two back. Isn’t it wonderful how flexible Open Source can be?
  • For a handful of people sure, for the market, not really

    Closed source is just a flexible, it just addresses real market needs. Remember when MS had windows running on MIPS about 20 years ago? It died off when the MIPS market died off. If the MIPS market comes back, it'll come back, just like Windows on ARM has come.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Re: Closed source is just a[s] flexible...

      The evidence shows otherwise. Look at the increasingly desperate attempts by both Microsoft and Apple to try to keep up with the feverish progress in the Android world. Closed-source simply cannot keep up with open-source.
      • Open source has no business model

        Open source is loaded with discipline-less, un-organized bunches with each carrying own agendas. What do you get from that kinda crowd? Chaos, conflict of interests, division and waste of time and money. Watching FOSS in action is like listening to an orchestra playing symphony without a conductor. We get off-pace, off-rhythm and out-of-sync performance that turns audience and the business opportunities away.

        That's why we've got so many X-based FOSS desktop OSes out there with each being a swing & miss, until Apple came along with a well executed CLOSED-SOURCE x-desktop (OSX) to snatch far more market share than ALL FOSS desktops put together.

        That's why, again, we have so many fragmented Android out there in the market with each an OEM's own agenda behind it that confused the users and divide the supporting force up only for the closed-source competition to conquer easily.

        What is left is therefore a few FOSS projects funded by big corps that, consequently, cannot go off the corporate lines (What, you don't obey our policies? You wanna bite the hand feeding you?). So much for flexibility.

        That is the true state of FOSS.
        • FOSS has no business model?

          Red Hat grosses over a billion dollars on Open source. Google? Amazon? IBM? HP? What is the true state of FOSS?
    • And the MIPS Market Didn't Die Off

      Windows NT on MIPS did die, but MIPS itself has gone on to ship half a billion CPUs per year last I heard, which is somewhat more than Intel has ever been able to manage.