MIPS chip slips through Android compliance
Green robot no longer an ARM exclusive
A processor based on MIPS architecture has passed the Android Compatibility Test Suite, providing a welcome lifeline to the company whose share price has been in freefall lately.
The chip comes from Beijing-based Ingenic Semiconductor, whose MIPS32-based SoC (System on a Chip) XBurst has passed the 24,000 tests required before one can put the small green robot on the box. More importantly, the test allows manufacturers to install Google's Android application suite onto handsets, including the Android Marketplace.
Phones and tablets using Ingenic's SoC are already on sale in China, but without the critical Android endorsement which passing the test makes possible. MIPS reports that a Froyo-running handset is already on sale in China for less than $100, and will be shipping into the US any day now.
That handset might be cheap, but with Android compatibility it will have the Marketplace, and that means Angry Birds - it's the new Doom!
MIPS proudly announced the passing of the test, claiming that this development puts it "on top of the mobile mountain" alongside Android, with Intel still scrabbling up the slopes. But a glance at the MIPS share price shows a company in need of some good news: after peaking a shade under $18 in January, the company's shares now languish at under $7 following admissions that it wouldn't make its revenue targets for the year.
Having a little green robot on the outside of the box is very important to phone manufacturers, particularly in the west where the Android brand is widely recognised. Having an alternative to ARM is also to be welcomed, though it's Intel that the industry is really waiting for. ®
It's Intel the industry is waiting for?
not really - what its waiting for is for old Windows to be able to run on handsets that can be used without asbestos gloves and a spare car battery in your pocket.
Its going to be too long a wait for everyone involved. The rest of us are ready for the leap into the 21stC
A shot in the ARM for MIPS
Some of us that specialize in embedded work actually wondered just the opposite. For instance if you had two identically configured systems but one is MIPS32r2 based and one is an ARMv7 and both are clocked at say 500MHz, the ARM system nominally would consume ~15% less power than the MIPS system but it would also suffer from a ~25% performance hit when compared to the MIPS system.
Similarly I worked at a company that specialized in low power x86 SOC designs back in 1996 and I was responsible for doing an exhaustive comparison of the available low power architectures at the time. In my report to my supervisor I told him that Motorola's M-Core architecture would perform better than ARM on a power usage basis but not on a performance basis.
ARM had also implemented a programmer accessible shadow register set, special interrupt processing and the THUMB instruction set and the writing was on the wall.