Imagination Unveils 6-Core MIPS Chip for Mobile, Embedded Spaces

Imagination officials are hoping the company’s MIPS-based offerings will help it gain traction in such markets as smartphones and tablets.

Imagination Technologies officials are unveiling the design for a six-core MIPS processor aimed at a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Imagination’s MIPS P5600 is the first in its Series5 “Warrior”chips, a 32-bit design that company officials said offers CPU cores that are 30 percent smaller than competitive cores, which makes it suitable for a variety of embedded, mobile and consumer devices.

The MIPS P5600 comes less than four months after executives from Imagination—which bought MIPS Technologies’ chip business last year for $100 million with plans to expand its reach in the highly competitive mobile devices space—first talked about plans for the Series5 Warrior chips, which will be expanded over the next 12 months to include other 32-bit parts as well as 64-bit chips for a wide range of systems, from embedded devices to low-power servers.

“This is about much more than the arrival of yet another CPU IP core,” Tony King-Smith, executive vice president for marketing at Imagination, said in a statement. “This is the start of something much bigger—the rollout of a comprehensive family of next-generation CPUs that will change the CPU IP landscape forever. As we continue to roll out MIPS Series5 products to address the applications spectrum from entry-level to the high-end, we will provide levels of performance, efficiency and functionality that surpass other offerings in the market.”

Imagination officials will present technical details about the MIPS P5600 offerings Oct. 17 at the Linley Tech Processor Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

The company is looking to make inroads into a mobile chip space that already is dominated by ARM and its numerous manufacturing partners—including Samsung, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Nvidia—and where Intel is making an aggressive push with its Core, Atom and Quark portfolios. Officials also plan for Imagination’s MIPS technology to get into low-power microservers, competing in a space where Intel is king but one where ARM also expects to play, particularly when systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) from the likes of Calxeda, Applied Micro and Advanced Micro Devices built on ARM’s upcoming 64-bit ARMv8 architecture hit the market. OEMs like Hewlett-Packard and Dell already are pushing forward with plans for microservers running both Intel and ARM-based SoCs.

Imagination is best-known for its PowerVR graphics core technology that is found in a range of mobile chips for everything from SoCs from Samsung and Apple to devices like Google Glass.

Officials said the MIPS P5600 offers an array of advanced features to bolster capabilities around security, large address spaces and advanced SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) processing, including a full 128-bit SIMD for greater performance on workloads that demand parallel processing, such as imaging and media.

In addition, it offers complete hardware virtualization, integrated security features, enhanced virtual addressing (EVA) to better leverage virtual address space for more efficient memory and extended physical addressing (XPA) to handle physical memory up to 1 terabyte. The speed can range from 1GHz to more than 2GHz, according to Imagination officials.

They also stressed the instruction set and development tool compatibility between the upcoming 32- and 64-bit MIPS chip offerings, protecting the investment made now by systems makers and end users in the 32-bit Warrior chip when the 64-bit versions start coming to market next year.

The MIPS P5600 design will be available for licensing later this quarter, officials said.