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MIPS plays down ARM expansion threat

Posted: 22 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM expansion? MIPS core? IP cores?

Reacting to its U.K.-based archrival's apparent move into its turf, MIPS Technologies Inc. said it is confident that ARM Ltd will not be able to take market share from it in the increasingly competitive IP cores market. The company was responding to a recent presentation by ARM senior executives, which indicated they were targeting sectors such as STBs, HDTV and DVD systemsareas where MIPS cores already dominate.

"ARM is a good company. We naturally take them seriously and are not complacent, but we believe that even with their Cortex-A8 they will have big problems getting into these market in any serious way," Cesar Martin-Perez, VP of European operations at MIPS told EE Times Europe. "And in fact, with the launch last month of our 74k line of 32bit microprocessor architecture, we think we are in position to attack them in some sectors."

He was referring to the latest IP core from MIPS that includes a superscalar, out-of-order technology for use in a range of high-performance applications. The range comprises two synthesizable, 1.04GHz cores, dubbed the 74Kc and 74Kf. The 74Kc is a base integer core, while the 74Kf combines the integer core and a high-performance floating-point unit.

The new product expands MIPS' efforts in the 32bit embedded processor space, where it competes against ARM and ARC, among others. Previously, MIPS' high-end embedded processor core was the 24K, an 8-stage, single-issue architecture based on 90nm technology.

Martin-Perez also points to comparisons between the Cortex-A8 and the MIPS32 74K line, "which clearly indicates our advantage in terms of cost, performance and time to market. Our cores clearly have higher frequency, typically 1.7mm? core area compared to more like 3mm? for the Coretx-A8 and higher speed from the 17-stage pipeline architecture.

"When customers do their own comparisons of the data for the new architectures, they will see the cost/performance advantages we can bring to their designs, and also factor in that migrating from one type of SoC architecture to another can be a big, disruptive issue. The fact is we believe ARM has not been left a way in."

He adds: "ARM has been trying for a long time to penetrate our customer base. But they face significant hurdles and we are highly motivated to maintain our market share."

According to MIPS, the company has a 76 percent share of worldwide OEM units shipped for cable STBs, 59 percent for DTV and 30 percent for satellite STBs.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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