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Android Software Hardware

MIPS Technologies Porting Android 4.1 to MIPS Architecture 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the architecture-wars-round-five dept.
angry tapir writes with news on Android getting support for a third architecture. From the article: "ARM rival MIPS is continuing its push to make a mark in low-cost tablets and quickly trying to bring Android 4.1 (Jellybean) to its processors. 'We are working aggressively on bringing Jelly Bean to MIPS, and expect that it will be available to our licensees very soon,' said Jen Bernier-Santarini, director of corporation communications at MIPS, in an email. Tablets with MIPS processors are largely low-cost and have found buyers mostly in developing countries. MIPS last week said a new tablet called Miumiu W1 from Chinese company Ramos would become available in a few months in India, Latin America and Europe. The tablet has a 7-inch screen, a MIPS processor running at 1GHz, front camera and a microSD slot for expandable storage."
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MIPS Technologies Porting Android 4.1 to MIPS Architecture

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  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:19AM (#40685707)
    Good, finally ARM manufacturers will stop having a monopoly where they can charge whatever they want. I've seen hints at OEM chip prices and they're ridiculous compared to even desktop chips. That will help everyone...just in time for x86 tablets to come out so people can actually run whatever they want.

    By the way, if you're wondering as I did but were too lazy to look it up, yes, they actually named themselves MIPS without noticing that that's also Millions of Instructions Per Second, a method for measuring the speed of any CPU. Theirs stands for Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages and it refers to an instruction set. What an unfortunate oversight. Stages could have been replaced with just about any other word to differentiate it.
    • by game kid (805301)

      What an unfortunate oversight.

      Unless it was an intentional usurpation, like Microsoft's uses of .NET or DNS.

      (Someone here made a comment about that; if I could find it I'd link it.)

    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:25AM (#40685771) Journal
      OEM chip prices like the Tegra 3 at $35 for a quad core 1.4GHz with a fifth extremely-low-power core bounded to 500MHz in single processor mode? With a full system-on-chip including system bridges, memory controllers, and full nVidia graphics, $35 is ridiculous. Why a quad core Sandy Bridge processor doesn't cost half that!
      • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:31AM (#40685841) Homepage Journal

        OEM chip prices like the Tegra 3 at $35

        As a comment to a recent anti-Ouya story on Slashdot pointed out, even the data sheet for the Tegra 3 is available only to the highest volume manufacturers.

        • And from the same company, a Geforce 210 card fully assembled costs around $35 so I can't imagine what the GPU originally cost and it's a bit faster. I think 610's just came out too and the price indicates the GPU was less than $35. I'm not sure if that's actually x86 actually but still. I know they're all feature heavy with energy savings and stuff and pricing based on performance isn't the best idea but I bet the electricity handling parts inside a Tegra 3 aren't quite as high grade and expensive as a 5
          • It's probably actually higher grade. The massive power output of a 50-200W processor is due to leakage--that is, it's due to poor efficiency. The Intel Atom for example was designed to leak less, and Intel's tighter packaging and lower TPD CPUs are based on new fabrication process that allows greater electrical efficiency. Bloated, poorly thought out designs bleed power as standing static field and heat--standing static field prevents smaller process, i.e. an imprecisely made junction will work on a 90nm

        • Nvidia, dickish on providing specs? Impossible!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Nvidia, dickish on providing specs? Impossible!

            Companies making complex chips don't like releasing specs to all and sundry because someone might read them and realise they've broken a patent that they'd never previously heard of.

      • OEM chip prices like the Tegra 3 at $35 for a quad core 1.4GHz with a fifth extremely-low-power core bounded to 500MHz in single processor mode? With a full system-on-chip including system bridges, memory controllers, and full nVidia graphics, $35 is ridiculous. Why a quad core Sandy Bridge processor doesn't cost half that!

        Is that a sarcastic question?
        Tegra 3 and ARM in general is low power because it's small. You probably can pack 20 ARM cores inside a Sandy Bridge Core, even the Intel Atom, the smallest x86 core, is big next to an ARM core. You are comparing Apples to Oranges.

        • Good, finally ARM manufacturers will stop having a monopoly where they can charge whatever they want. I've seen hints at OEM chip prices and they're ridiculous compared to even desktop chips.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good, finally ARM manufacturers will stop having a monopoly where they can charge whatever they want.

      I though ARM processors were really inexpensive, we keep seeing cheaper and cheaper tablets, computers like the RaspberryPi, MK802, etc, all based on ARM
      ARM have a monopoly, yeah, but it's because they're really better on price, performance and power consumption (AFAIK)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You realize the Raspberry Pi only hits that price point due to heavy subsidizing by Broadcom, right?

      • by daid303 (843777) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:43AM (#40685959)

        Good, finally ARM manufacturers will stop having a monopoly where they can charge whatever they want.

        I though ARM processors were really inexpensive, we keep seeing cheaper and cheaper tablets, computers like the RaspberryPi, MK802, etc, all based on ARM
        ARM have a monopoly, yeah, but it's because they're really better on price, performance and power consumption (AFAIK)

        They are. But people always want cheaper and see monopolies where they want. To compare, we are currently in the process of replacing a 50 euro PowerPC chip with an 7 euro ARM chip, which is faster and more capable.

    • by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:29AM (#40685829)

      They've been around for ages... Anyone who might need/want to know the architecture can easily differentiate MIPS from MIps, just ike everybody can distinguish ARM from arm.

      • As long as it's in all caps, nobody should misunderstand it...unless they say "IT'S AN ARM-KILLING TABLET!" which definitely implies it's extremely heavy, lol.
        • by obirt (713598)

          Then what do you say to StrongARM?

        • by mvdw (613057)
          "IT'S AN ARM-KILLING TABLET WITH 1 MIPS PROCESSOR!!1!1!one!!" Some more text to get over Slashdot lameness filter for all caps. That was kind of the point, and now the joke's been ruined.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I'm still bitter after trying to eat my Apple.

        And my Commodore was a terrible military strategist.

      • by galanom (1021665)

        I think that both are properly capitalized as "MIPS". Why Mips or MIps? Unless you also say also Mflops?
        Well, thankfully it doesn't matter anymore as no processor is measured in MIPS or MFLOPS. Even low power chips are in the range of Giga.

        • Why MIps? I prefer it because:

          Capital M for decimal Mega (as in million)
          The i is kinda indifferent, but since Mips is the rabbit in Super Mario 64, I prefer a capital I
          Lowercase p for "per"
          Lowercase s because SI units are lowercase unless they're named after a person.

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      Stages could have been replaced with just about any other word to differentiate it.

      Yeah, like Steps! ...oh wait...nevermind.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:53AM (#40686053) Journal
      To what degree are 'ARM manufacturers' reasonably a monopoly? The rise of ARM devices whose performance people give a fuck about does seem to have opened room for whoever is currently selling the hottest part on the street to charge a nontrivial premium; but cut back a bit from the bleeding edge and it's a veritable knife-fight of utterly undistinguished and cheap offerings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      MIPS has been around for some time. They used to make RISC processors for workstation class machines and even had a Windows NT distribution that was geared to high performance floating-point operations. This was in the early nineties when there were competitors in the 32-bit windows platform. DEC-Alpha, Intel, MIPS all had versions of Windows NT, and there were versions of AutoCAD, 3D Studio, and some of the Adobe products as well.

      MIPS biggest success at the time was their use in SGI workstations that fu

      • by Narishma (822073)

        MIPS also produced the processor at the heart of the N64.

        And the PS2 and PSP and multitudes of routers and set top boxes.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          One advantage MIPS has over ARM, is that while higher end and server class chips are new to ARM, MIPS was doing 64bit server-class chips and massive multiprocessing years ago... There is already a well defined MIPS64 architecture, complete with mature compilers and OS support.

          Instead of targeting cheap and lowend, they should be going after low power servers...

          • by unixisc (2429386)

            Fully agree w/ all of the above posters. If any CPU has covered the entire spectrum of low power to high performance, it's been MIPS. Alpha used to be known for its excessively high power dissipation, PPC's low power offerings rarely was low in power consumption, ARM rarely had the performance, while PA-RISC and SPARC hardly played in the low power space. It's tragic that MIPS has lost the console market to the PPC, but they can still recoup w/ both tablets and low power servers. Currently, AFAIK, it's

            • MIPS is still big in networking; see Cavium and Raza/NetLogic/Broadcom.

            • by Bert64 (520050)

              I've actually been trying to buy a Loongson-3, but they don't seem to be available anywhere... They published pictures of various motherboards, but none of them seem to be available to buy.

          • One disadvantage MIPS has is that it has a completely batshit insane architecture full of things that kind-of vaguely made sense in a research project and have been a liability for over a decade.

            I'm currently working the MIPS back end in LLVM and every day brings a new WTF. ARM, at least, has a mostly sane architecture and in the 64-bit variant has removed a load of stuff that doesn't make sense with newer pipeline designs (e.g. store multiple, conditional adds, and so on). MIPS just accumulates legacy

          • For some reason I looked at the MIPS Web site the other day and they have no 64-bit cores. It looks like they've completely abandoned 64-bit.

    • by pchan- (118053)

      This is either either comedy or extreme stupidity, but I can't tell which.

  • Fragmentation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:27AM (#40685789) Homepage Journal

    Great. Now we'll see the same fragmentation Windows CE had all those years. Most games use the NDK and contain binary compiled specifically for ARM. Obviously those apps will not run on the MIPS processor. Microsoft eventually learned this was not a good thing and finally forced all OEMs to use ARM to qualify for Pocket PC branding.

    Now all we need is Android running on SH3 and we'll have gone full circle.

    • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tapewolf (1639955) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:31AM (#40685847)

      Great. Now we'll see the same fragmentation Windows CE had all those years. Most games use the NDK and contain binary compiled specifically for ARM. Obviously those apps will not run on the MIPS processor.

      The NDK now has MIPS support out of the box. Going forward it would probably be a good idea to compile for all supported targets.

    • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Informative)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:35AM (#40685873) Journal
      It doesn't matter really. ARM uses some 0.1-1.0W, MIPS uses 10-20W for slower clock speeds. ARM has fixed-width single-decode instructions; MIPS has three types of instructions of variable width. ARM does damn near everything in one clock, including evaluate-and-execute prefixed instructions ( { if ( n ) m = 5; } is 2 insns: 'cmp n' and a prefixed 'movnz m, 5'. If n == 0, movnz means 'nop'; otherwise it means 'mov'. Instead of 'cmp n; jnz @@a; mov m,5; @@a:' where jnz and mov have to be evaluated in separate stages. Yes it's been 11 years since I did assembly, it was 286 and 6502, and I'm unfamiliar with ARM by far). MIPS is slow. You may as well put an Intel CELERON in there if you go MIPS.
      • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Informative)

        by YoopDaDum (1998474) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:06PM (#40687809)

        ARM uses some 0.1-1.0W, MIPS uses 10-20W for slower clock speeds.

        Not anymore, by far. Forget about MIPS as in Silicon Graphics workstations ages ago. Now MIPS is an embedded IP provider, very similar to ARM. And they do have low power cores quite similar to ARM. Who is on top in mW/MHz changes over time, but MIPS do have some competitive offers.

        Now what ARM has for it is that it became the defacto architecture for mobile (nobody got fired to chose ARM and all that), and it has much more resources than MIPS. So ARM has a more extensive IP offer, and can work on process optimization too. By this I mean that where MIPS will provide a soft core in RTL, ARM can also provide hard macros optimized for some fab process. And even if you want to go soft core and optimize yourself, ARM can provide a ready to use optimization package to get you started.

        ARM has fixed-width single-decode instructions; MIPS has three types of instructions of variable width.

        No, they're actually very similar: their native instruction size is 32 bits, but both support a 16 bits instruction mode which is in its second generation in each case (Thumb2 for ARM, can't remember the MIPS name... Maybe MIPSe?).

        MIPS is slow. You may as well put an Intel CELERON in there if you go MIPS.

        Why the comparison with a discrete chip? MIPS do no sell discrete chips anymore, it's all IP. Then in IP they have offer that are performance competitive with the same class ARM. I'd give the edge in the high end to ARM though, thanks to their close work with the fab to optimize their implementation.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        MIPS is slow. You may as well put an Intel CELERON in there if you go MIPS.

        I don't know where you get your information from. MIPS processors have had a much higher DMIPS/MHz than ARM CPUs for as long as I can remember.

      • Mod parent down!
        MIPS 10-20W? you cannot drop numbers like that without any citation! I have in my hand a PIC32, a full MIPS that consumes some milliwatts. MIPS and ARM are Instruction sets, not CPUs. There are slow and fast implementation of the ARM ABI, and slow and fast implementations of MIPS ABI.

    • Most games use the NDK and contain binary compiled specifically for ARM. Obviously those apps will not run on the MIPS processor.

      Um... Unless they are recompiled to run on MIPS? I don't really see the problem as GCC already supports this.

    • by romiz (757548)

      Now all we need is Android running on SH3 and we'll have gone full circle.

      The newest Renesas application chips are based on ARM, with a SH4 core only as a coprocessor, so this particular monster will probably never exist.

  • It's not x86 so it's not safe from mandatory M$ restricted boot.
  • Incidentally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#40685985) Journal
    Forgive my ignorance; but when and how did MIPS get relegated to second-class status? I still see them crop up from time to time, certain cheapy router SoCs still come out with MIPS cores; but ARM appears to have gone rampaging across much of the territory that Intel hasn't already entrenched themselves in.

    Was there a fuckup or an epic design win at some point in the past?
    • Re:Incidentally... (Score:4, Informative)

      by k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:11AM (#40686273)
      Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] is your friend. Apparently, like an unwanted child, the company got passed around a few times, being bought by SGI, only to be spun out again. It's easy to speculate how an engineer working for an unstable company like that would have other things in mind besides designing the fastest and greatest processors.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      MIPS is stuck in an unfortunate limbo between ARM and PowerPC. They lost the home console market to PowerPC (PS1, PS2, N64 were MIPS, but NGC, 360, Wii, PS3 are PowerPC). They lost the portable console market to ARM (PSP was MIPS, PS Vita is ARM, and Nintendo went straight from Z80 to ARM). They're still popular for el cheapo home routers, but they're being squeezed by ARM on one side (small servers/plug-boxes/routers) and by PowerPC and Atom on the other side (NAS, larger home servers). Pro networking gear

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        As ARM moves higher end, MIPS would be better placed... While ARM is only just coming up with a 64bit variant, MIPS has had one for years and which already has support from linux/gcc/etc.

        Going after the cheapest end of the market is probably not the best choice, going after the low power server and highend tablet/smartphone market would make a lot more sense.

        • Re:Incidentally... (Score:4, Informative)

          by YoopDaDum (1998474) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:15PM (#40687879)
          I'm not sure that MIPS is so well placed in the high-end. Yes, they've been high end a long time ago and have had 64 bits support for ages. But today it's a different game, they provide embedded IP now. And where ARM can help their customers optimizing the implementation for a given process (ARM gains this experience by making hard macros and working closely with TSMC, GlobalFoundries...), MIPS has much less resource and just do soft macros. Then up to you to do the optimization. In other words, if you go ARM for an embedded high-performance SoC IP you can leverage a lot of work that ARM does, that you will have to do with MIPS. To get an implementation that is less common in the end.

          So the high end may be tough for MIPS. But in the medium end, where price is critical and performance less so, they can be an interesting choice.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whereas ARM is prolific in consumer-grade portable devices (phone, tablets, etc), MIPS is more prevalent in embedded devices and datacenter appliances. Especially in the networking field, for some reason. A lot of wifi access points, routers, and "modems" have MIPS inside. (WRT54G, for example.) High-end network gear from Cisco, Radisys, and other manufacturers often have dozens of MIPS cores per device to move packets from one network subsystem to the next.

      • Code density - the same code can often compile to fewer bytes on ARM. The 6502 influenced the ARM instruction set, yeilding many tricks, shortcuts, and optimizations. MIPS is a more "conventional" design, and suffers from (standard) RISC code density bloat.
      • Power - the original ARM dissipated 0.1 watts; MIPS has had to work to get down that low.
      • Transistor count - the original ARM had 30,000 transistors, and has not ramped up (as) significantly in core transistor count (disregarding new functional units).
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:50AM (#40686029)
    I remember when Windows ran on MIPS!
  • Finally I'm one set closer to getting apps on my smart tv box.
  • Seems like MIPS has been used in budget super computers lately in China. Nice that they are early out with porting this. Someone should make a cheap unbranded, unthemed, vanilla. android phone.

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