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Imagination seeks to resurrect MIPS in the spotlight

Posted: 20 Jun 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MIPS? Imagination? processor? ARM?

Thermal throttling

When a chip (CPU, GPU, or SoC) reaches a temperature limit, it will reduce frequency to cut heat and temperature. Using a technique known as "CPU throttling" in computer architecture, a mobile device automatically adjusts the frequency of a microprocessor either to conserve power or to reduce the amount of heat generated by the chip.

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Source: Imagination Technologies

The recently released GFXBench 3.0 (shown above) illustrates that PowerVR GPUs (both PowerVR SGX GPU and PowerVR Rogue GPU) continuously maintain high-level performance even in the 30th runwhich is equivalent to a smartphone user running graphics-intensive applications, such as game or navigation, on a mobile device for 15 to 20 minutes.

In contrast, the competitor's GPUs get too hot after a while, forcing performance to drop 20 to 30 per cent. After all the pixels are drawn and everything is rendered, maintaining continuous performance is important. That's when power-efficient architecture matters, says Imagination.

Mapping out Imagination's IPs for mobile

Bluntly put, many players in the electronics industry today are not sanguine about the survival chances for MIPS processors in a global mobile market where, in the last decade, ARM has built its formidable ecosystem.

In short, "There's not much [Imagination] can do to move the CPU needle in their direction for mobile," says Mike Demler, senior analyst at The Linley Group.

But that doesn't mean there is no opportunity in the mobile segment for Imagination. In the following chart, Imagination maps out how a variety of IPs offered by Imagination would fit into a range of mobile devices including ultra-affordable devices and high-end smartphones.

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Mapping out Imagination's IPs in smartphones and tablets. Source: Imagination Technologies

Although no single MIPS-based apps processors exist today for mobile devices, Imagination is hopeful for its full IP portfolio to attract new licencees.

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