MIPS Open-Source Group Takes Aim at ARM, Intel
Imagination is looking to grow MIPS in an increasingly competitive processor market. Intel and ARM are both looking to gain greater traction in the other's strongholds. Intel continues to improve the performance and drive down the power consumption of its Atom platform as it looks to get a stronger foothold in the mobile arena, particularly in smartphones and tablets. For its part, ARM sees an opportunity to get its low-power chip designs into the data center. ARM already has a number of high-profile partners in this effort, from Advanced Micro Devices on the chip side to Hewlett-Packard and Dell on the systems side. And everyone is eyeing the burgeoning IoT space, which IDC analysts believe could hit $7.3 trillion by 2017. Insight 64's Brookwood said Imagination officials "have a chance [to succeed]. It's not a done deal."Imagination is taking a different approach than Linaro, which is essentially focused on Linux and the data center, Brookwood said. With Prpl, Imagination is opening the architecture to a range of platforms, from Google's Android and WebOS to Tizen and the various flavors of Linux, including Red Hat and Ubuntu. That range will be important, he said. "No one knows what's going to happen with the Internet of things," Brookwood said. "No one knows what OSes are going to be important. … Prpl is broader." The data center will represent a particular challenge to Imagination, where Intel is king and ARM and its various partners are making a concerted effort, he said. Imagination will have to find server makers who will want to take the time and effort needed to incorporate the MIPS architecture into their systems at a time when they already have Intel and ARM to choose from, he said. "It will be an uphill climb for them," Brookwood said. "Now there's a lot of push from ARM in the data center. But Intel's dominance in the data center will be hard for anyone to shake."
However, creating the Prpl Foundation was another smart move in a world that is becoming even more open source, he said. Linux grew up in the x86 environment, so Intel and AMD have an edge there. The Linaro Group is working to build out the ecosystem around ARM's architecture in the data center, while IBM is looking to OpenPower for help.