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MIPS set on cracking 3.5G/4G handset market

Posted: 12 Feb 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IP core? processor? 4G? handset market?

Third, MIPS announced that Beceem, a leading 4G Mobile WiMAX chip vendor, has just licensed MIPS32 4KEc synthesizable processer core for next-generation wireless networking products.

Overall, Swift insisted that MIPS enjoys clear advantages for use in 4G baseband processing.

Such 4G requirements as "efficient protocol stack and library execution," for example, fit well with MIPS' capabilities. MIPS can provide "high performance instruction set architecture" and "proven ecosystem of optimized ported software," according to Swift.

When 4G demands real time, deterministic execution, MIPS can offer "low interrupt latency and fast context switching using shadow registers," he added.

Obviously, 4G demands high data throughput in order to achieve maximum download speeds. That's not a problem for MIPS, according to Swift. He cited: MIPS' high dhrystone MIPS per MHz compute engine and high efficient cache-based architecture.

Entering app processors
MIPS is equally bullish about the use of its cores in applications processing.

MIPS and Mavrix Technology, a China SoC vendor and one of MIPS' lead customers, are working to develop a mobile SoC design running Android in cellphones, personal media players and mobile Internet devices.

The SoC is not just a standalone apps processor but is also capable of running the Android operating system, according to MIPS. Mavrix is said to be already working with Chinese OEMs and ODMs for design wins for such a SoC.

Swift believes MIPS' processor core is a natural for applications processing in Android-based products. He noted such MIPS' capabilities as "low power and uncompromising performance/power advantage," and "high performance floating point unit," as ideal in meeting stringent requirements that include the need for processing "multiple uploads/downloads simultaneously at lowest power," and "real time, high speed multimedia."

In the end, the key for OEMs in deciding whether to use MIPS in their mobile handsets may not lie in technical differences between MIPS and ARM, but rather which has a better and stronger ecosystem.

Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, once noted that both architecturesMIPS and ARMoffer synthesizable cores adaptable to cellphones, smart phones, and many other mobile applications. "They are both viable building blocks for a SoC, which is the final processor solution for all these applications," he said.

He said: "Often the [OEMs'] decision may come down to other factors, such as the IP that is available, software compatibility, access to the architecture (if required), licensing agreements, and others."

Although MIPS still has a lot more heavy lifting to do, it appears to have begun moving in the right direction as it seeks fortune in the mobile world.

- Junko Yoshida
EE Times


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