Imagination Technologies Vows to Deliver Server-Class MIPS IP in 2014

Microprocessors with MIPS Architecture for Servers Are Incoming

by Anton Shilov
09/01/2013 | 11:58 PM

Imagination Technologies, a leading developer of graphics processing and general-purpose processing technologies, has announced a new timeframe for the arrival of central processing units based on MIPS architecture for servers. Actual products powered by the new design will be able to target not only consumer or low-power devices, but even micro-servers, according to the company.


"The intent with MIPS is to cover all the markets where a CPU is relevant," said Hossein Yassaie, chief executive officer of Imagination, in an interview with ComputerWorld web-site.

Imagination Technologies, which was once known for Kyro graphics cards and is currently known as one of leading providers of graphics IP to leading designers of mobile gadgets, is going to pursue the most lucrative part of the microprocessor market, the servers. The plan will inevitably result in increased competition with ARM Holdings, the dominant designer of general-purpose processing tech for smartphones and tablets.

Imagination announced plans for server-class chips back in June along with its MIPS serie 5 CPUs. However, the company has never announced exact intentions and possible launch dates. This time Mr. Yassaie said Imagination's upcoming series 5 "Warrior" CPUs will cover every segment of the market – including servers by the end of 2014. But while the IP will be ready, it will take a lot longer (2 – 3 years) for chip designers to create actual system-on-chips powered by MIPS architecture.

At the end, a bunch of low-power cores does not mean that much for a design win, but a well-designed SoC with input/output capabilities simply have more chances.

“So for us to be a significant player in [servers] it will take several years. But in terms of technology, come the end of next year I would expect to have a solution for all the markets that are important for a CPU to be in,” said Mr. Yassaie.

Select MIPS series 5 “Warrior” CPUs will benefit from MIPS SIMD Architecture (MSA), which is specifically designed to accelerate compute-intensive applications with generic compiler support for high-level programming languages and APIs such as C or OpenCL. The MIPS SIMD Architecture (MSA) technology adds new instructions to the MIPS architecture that enable efficient parallel processing of vector operations. The architects developed an elegantly designed SIMD instruction set that is fully featured yet programmer- and compiler-friendly. This is achieved by directly translating most of the gcc SIMD patterns in single MSA instructions, seamlessly mixing scalar and vector data types operations through a rich set of typed data transfer instructions and much more.

By adding a software-programmable SIMD solution, these MIPS series 5 CPUs provide flexibility for handling multimedia codecs and functions without having to use DSP-dedicated hardware.

Imagination’s MIPS series 5 “Warrior” central processing unit (CPU) cores are designed to address a wide range of markets, from mobile and networking to embedded and microcontroller applications.

MIPS series 5 “Warrior” CPUs introduce both hardware and software virtualization (VZ) technologies. The virtualization implementation addresses not just MIPS32 applications processor cores, but extends all the way to ultra-high performance MIPS64 CPUs, where the VZ technology provides a simple and flexible hardware-based virtualization solution incorporated in products from industry leaders such as Broadcom and Cavium.