CHIP DESIGNER Imagination Technologies has unveiled its first CPU core based on a MIPS chip architecture, which the firm claims is 30 percent more efficient than rival Intel and ARM chips, with plans to deliver it to device makers by the end of the year.
Codenamed "Warrior", Imagination's P5600 chip is a 32-bit CPU and takes advantage of the MIPS Series 5 architecture, which is designed to accelerate compute-intensive applications, making it more efficient. It is designed for consumer electronics with an aim to challenge companies in the embedded and mobile markets.
Aimed at making the lives of code developers easier, some of the P5600 chip's key features include 128-bit single instruction multiple data (SIMD) technology designed "for high performance on data parallel operations such as DSP, imaging and media", hardware virtualisation and support for up to six cores per cluster.
The chip also offers some advanced addressing features, including "Extended Physical Addressing" (XPA), which allows a 32-bit system to access physical memory beyond the 32-bit limit, up to 1TB, or a 40-bit address space.
MIPS Technologies was bought by Imagination Technologies in February. Once upon a time, MIPS was the first port of call for those looking for a high performance chip architecture and featured in high-end consumer devices such as the PSOne and the PS2. The architecture lost favour over the last five or ten years, and is typically used in routers, cable modems, and smartcards. However, Imagination Technologies' graphics chips are already used in many smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad, so its expected that the firm will help rekindle the use of MIPS in its fresh Warrior P-class - "P" for performance - CPU.
Imagination Technologies doesn't manufacture the chip hardware. Like ARM, it develops the designs and licenses them to other chipmakers. Speaking to Imagination Technologies today, the firm told us that the integration of MIPS in the P5600 will not only bring a more efficient chip architecture to the market, but being licensable it will also give users more CPU choices, with a plan to grow "considerably" in the market in the coming years.
Imagination said the P5600 CPU is the first of a family of chips and will be available for licensing this quarter, which means that it should appear in consumer products in about 18 months. There are 64-bit chips to follow over the next 18 months or so, Imagination added. µ