CHIP DESIGNER Imagination has announced plans to design 32-bit and 64-bit MIPS processors that will sport up to six cores.
Imagination recently bought MIPS to bolster its CPU division as it competes with ARM on both CPU and GPU designs in the embedded processor market. The firm didn't waste much time in publicising parts of its processor roadmap, which includes a six-core processor codenamed Warrior.
Imagination said its Warrior processors will be both 32-bit and 64-bit compatible and added that code developed for the 32-bit MIPS instruction set will "seamlessly work with Warrior cores". The firm said that it will provide binary compatibility throughout its Warrior processor range and support hardware virtualisation.
Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie said, "As we share Imagination's comprehensive, market-leading MIPS core roadmap with customers worldwide, we are receiving an overwhelmingly positive response. With MIPS, we are creating a solution that a wide range of customers can benefit from and commit to for the long term, across applications ranging from tiny embedded devices to 64-bit many-core products for networking and beyond.
"We are confident that as we roll out the technologies on our MIPS roadmap, we will change the landscape for CPU [intellectual property]."
Imagination has been licensing its GPU technology under the PowerVR brand for years, with big name customers such as Apple and Intel using it in their chips. However in recent years ARM has put more emphasis on growing its GPU business and its Mali GPUs have been picking up design wins, especially with chip designers that want to stick to a single vendor.
Imagination will need to ensure operating system compatibility with its MIPS processors, though mobile operating systems such as Google's Android already have MIPS ports. What the firm didn't say in its roadmap is when it expects to get Warrior processors out the door, but given ARM's commanding position and Intel's rapidly developing Atom plans, Imagination doesn't have much time. µ