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MIPS chip slips through Android compliance

Green robot no longer an ARM exclusive

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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. ®

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