In the world of RISC (reduced instruction set computer) architectures the game is officially on. Imagination Technologies Group Plc (LON:IMG) today previewed [press release] its first 32-bit and 64-bit MIPS CPU cores targeting the mobile market, a market in which ARM Holdings Plc’s (LON:ARM) titular RISC core has reigned dominant for so long.
Imagination Tech. has long licensed graphics processing unit companion cores to go alongside ARM or Intel Corp. (INTC) Atom CPU cores. In a sense both ARM and Intel have historically been more diversified as they produce GPU cores, as well. But with its acquisition of MIPS Technology Inc. last November, Imagination Tech. looked to level the playing field.
Before, the mobile market looked like a race between Intel and ARM. Now Imagination Tech. is determined to make it a three-man race.
The new MIPS CPU cores, dubbed Series5 “Warrior” cores will offer some unique perks. First, they bring support for single instruction multiple data (SIMD) programming APIs like OpenCL (NVIDIA Corp.’s (NVDA) CUDA is another proprietary SIMD API). Second, they offer built-in security features, including processing units designed to accelerate content protection, secure networking protocols and payment services.
MIPS roadmap [click to enlarge]
Lastly, Imagination Tech. is plugging built in hardware and software virtualization support in the upcoming core series. The company says its aiming to target “a wide range of markets, from mobile and networking to embedded and microcontroller applications.”
In other words, expect some OEMs to potentially test the waters with Android-driven Warrior core smartphone and tablet designs. Just how valuable is the mobile CPU market? Consider that ARM pocketed $136M USD on a gaudy 50.5 percent operating margin in Q1 2013. Imagination Tech. is likely salivating at the potential for that kind of licensing loot.
The one thing that’s unclear is when exactly the “Warrior” cores will hit the market. Imagination Tech. offered no release schedule. Imagination Tech. is also winding up to the release of a new GPU core, the PowerVR Series6 core, which offers support for OpenGL ES 3.0 for the first time.
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