Back to Article

  • DJTryHard - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Imagination Technologies are the ones that develop the PowerVR graphics. Reply
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Also worth noting they powered some Intel chipsets, where Intel are too lazy to make their own GPU (some Atom CPUs).
    As well as obviously lots of ARM based SoCs.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    The issue was that Intel's IGPs have historically been power hungry for their performance; when atom was just a minor sideline it was cheaper to license 3rd party IP. However, IIRC starting with Atom v2.0 next year they intend to go to an in house design permanently. Reply
  • deltatux - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Intel is one of the major shareholders in Imagination Technologies. Why wouldn't they not want to use PowerVR? Apple is another major shareholder as well. Reply
  • DERSS - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    So no wonder that Intel is going to drop its weak mobile graphics for much more powerful/effecient PowerVR.

    And, of course, Apple uses it as graphic coprocessors.
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't sing praise about Intel using PowerVR.

    PowerVR may have more performance than the GMA 950 based IGP's like the GMA 3100, however it's drivers are so so so so so so so so so baaaad, even worst than Intels which says something.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    What devices are you downloading drivers for, exactly? Last time I played around with _first-party_ PowerVR drivers was when I had a Kyro II. Their drivers were actually pretty good. They even later released one that did emulated hardware T&L in software, which allowed them to run many games that weren't intended to run on Series 3. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    Look at newegg reviews on the current generation of atom boards. Rage about the horrid powerVR drivers has crushed the rating on every single board. Reply
  • RicardoNeuer - Thursday, November 08, 2012 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
  • kitf - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    How do you know it's Imaginations fault rather than Intel's? Aren't Intel responsible for the driver bring up? Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    Yep, I was 90% sure that was them but the article should mention that.

    Also the article doesn't explain WHY this removes MIPS from being a competitor. If anything I'd think it strengthens what the combined company could do if they wanted to. It seems like PowerVR to date has had the best mobile graphics? Certainly competitive, and combined MIPS/PowerVR cores have potential, probably now and certainly going forward.
  • Gopi - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    MIPS is into most of the wireline chips. I am sure this acquisition is a cool one. Can we expect Imagination to make their own Multimedia processors ? or will it remain as a IP supplier alone ? Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Imagination Tech could take over AMD's role Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Seriously, they have crazy graphics IP and now a new architecture with low single-thread abilities. They could easily make an APU (SoC) to rule them all, especially long-term. Still, as Apple's iPad has demonstrated, PowerVR well-implemented and optimized is highly competitive. Reply
  • Urizane - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    Apple didn't optimize PowerVR graphics, they just put more of it on there than anybody else. SGX 554MP4 means that there are four SGX 554 modules. Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    "this deal cuts down the number of players in the mobile space from three (ARM, Intel and MIPS) to just ARM and Intel now "
    What makes you say that? If anything it makes MIPS stronger or are you assuming Imagination is ...doing what?Going ARM?
  • UpSpin - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I agree with you. This deal ups the number of players in the mobile space from two (ARM, Intel) to three (ARM, Intel, MIPS).
    MIPS SoCs were used in some foreign not well known cheap mobile devices already, but their main territory was more in embedded systems, rather than mobile devices.
    Now with ImgTec could push their mobile research a bit further.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    MIPS / ImgTec will find it difficult to get into mobile space as an app processor IP vendor because ARM is well entrenched and, in addition, most of the general patents from MIPS have been taken up by ARM already. Only guarantee is that ARM will not be able to use the patents necessary for it to get into the networking space.

    Do you think ARM would have spent > $150 mn. to enable another vendor to compete with it in the app processor space ? That is not happening, guys :) Only hope for competition is Intel coming up with compelling mobile / smartphone solutions.
  • UpSpin - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Either you or I have misunderstood the patent thing.
    MIPS 'sold' the patents to a consortium, to which ARM, ImgTec and others have access. "but Imagination Tech retains a royalty-free, perpetual license to them"
    ARM doesn't have exclusive access to those patents. MIPS just can't license them to ARM any longer, but still use them in their own technologies.

    And MIPS is well known in the low cost sector, but because they haven't focused on the high end sector yet. There are many mobiledevices with MIPS SoCs, just low end china stuff at the moment.

    ARM has Cortex + Mali, ready to build for companies like Samsung.
    ImgTec will have MIPS + PowerVR, ready to build for companies like Samsung.

    Or maybe, in the future, if MIPs gets competive in the high end sector Apple will make a huge buyout, and buy ImgTec to switch from Intel and ARM to their own independent designs.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I hope to revisit this post a couple of years down the line :)

    ImgTec can't go out and say that it will not continue with the mobile app processor aspirations of MIPS right now. Also, all the talk of Android being one of the reasons can also be construed to mean that Android is making its presence felt even in CE devices like STBs (where MIPS has a strong foothold) - and doesn't necessarily have to mean that it is the mobile market focus.

    Another angle that seems to stick out is the fact that ARM, despite being interested and having cash in hand, couldn't have fully bought out MIPS because of anti-trust concerns. An educated guess is that this deal was done with MIPS, ImgTec and ARM / Bridge Crossing LLC sitting together. I pointed out the patents aspect with this in mind.

    My prediction is that ImgTec will continue to serve the Chinese market with the mobile solutions and probably sign up a few more licensees for PowerVR in the process. Of course, networking and STB focus will be enhanced. I would be greatly surprised if they launch a full-out frontal assault in the mobile app processor space against ARM.

    I am looking forward to how this is going to play out.
  • jjj - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    It makes little sense for Imagination to invest in CPU cores,add the MIPS team (that ups expenses quite a bit) and not fully use some of that work in mobile.Since they acquired what matters most to the MIPS architecture it makes sense to actually use it,if not then they got to go ARM ,make and licence a custom core but i doubbt it and that would be somewhat dissapointing.
    There isn't much info out there for now,so hard to figure out if they are really going to push MIPS but from a business perspective,while more costly ,it does have a lot more upside.

    This quote might be relevant but it's also true that he doesn't mention any sectors.
    "The combined business should be able to create a new industry-leading force in CPUs, and essentially will provide choice and an alternative to our good friends in Cambridge," Imagination chief executive Hossein Yassaie told Reuters
  • Penti - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    They got no mobile processors to license to begin with. The mobile processors in China aren't MIPS Technologies designs at all to start with just MIPS compatible and their own efforts has zero design wins. They collaborated on the software side though, but not processor IP.

    MIPS has always been heavily dependent on third party implementors most of which doesn't use MIPS cores or only use them in low end products. Now only a few network firms hold on to MIPS and license the ISA, designing their own chips. Only thing MIPS-driven by themselves that they are trying to show off is cores suitable in baseband and they are just not used as baseband processors. Not even by the companies building with MIPS app processors. Ingenic's design which they try to pitch a ride with is Ingenic's own design. Not a product from MIPS tech.

    Mips technologies have yet had any aspirations of their own in the field. ProAptiv isn't realized yet

    Mips licensees can be expected to continue whatever they do irregardless of what Imagination wants to do with it. Having stuff like TV and STB chips with PowerVR graphics would help against custom solutions built on Mali. Any licensee of MIPS can use whatever though, Mali, Vivante etc. They would basically have to design and sell complete solutions to do a difference there.

    ProAptiv series do want to have success in the CE like STB, home networking, embedded/automotive field as well as mobile. My guess would be that they only tries to slightly alter their own MIPS processor IP to include options to license the design together with PowerVR graphics to make it an more attractive choice for multimedia. A macro or synthesisable design with the whole SoC ready. Supporting Chinese firms to run Android (i.e. porting, supporting software tools) of course also helps in the CE/STB/Infotainment field

    Powerful network equipment semiconductors will continue to build their own architectures that is either MIPS or PowerPC compatible. It's not like they are trying to sway people into licensing new 64-bit designs. MIPS Technologies hasn't designed 64-bit chips /designs since the R5000 that was actually built by a partner company we knew back then as QED. R4200/R4300i was really the last 64-bit design architectured by MTI. MIPS Tech. doesn't sell any 64-bit design IP today. SGI also worked on the R10000 series, but went under before making any huge strides. MIPS is essentially low-end at least as far as MTI is concerned. They also had MIPS64 5K, and MIPS64 20Kc which they licensed for a while. All the others, the other MIPS processors by vendors are basically their own architectures and design when it comes to higher-end chips. I expected that they would expect input into the MIPS64-design and ISA and would switch ISA if there is any trouble there. Imagination will just be able to offer processor IP for less money when they control the MTI. Not sure they want to start to compete with much more advanced chips themselves. Or to design them. Can they get others to do it for them, then great.
  • semo - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I was really hoping that MIPS will eventually give ARM a good kick in the pants but I guess we'll never see that happen.

    I don't think we need another Intel for the mobile market (big margins, slow innovation). ARM is still dragging their feet when it comes to releasing a 64 bit architecture. Their designs are not as power efficient as they could be too.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    With AMD (and Via I suppose) as the only major CPU designer missing from the licensee list this still stinks of trolling. Intel can't go after them directly without anti-trust larts being swung at their head; but a 3rd party in which they only have a minority stake is a great cover. Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    With AMD licensing ARM cores now, that vector doesn't appear to be very probable. AMD and Imagination likely have a cross licensing agreement in place already due to the overlap of technologies necessary to produce a modern GPU. I can see this being extended to incorporate CPU patents.

    Via could be a target but it would be odd considering their size and low volume nature.
  • bengildenstein - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I'm really surprised that practically nobody has talked about Imagination's Meta SoC CPU cores, that have been announced for what seems like a month now.

    The Meta core eschews out-of-order multi-core for in-order, 'virtual-core' that is supposed to be a much better handler with common cache misses (up to 3x performace with 4 virtual cores compared to quad-core) and a result in a die-space that is 1/4 the size of the traditional OoO core. It's 3x faster with typical workloads, and a scant 25% of the size, which should translate into great power or ridiculous performance, depending on the SoC makeup. It looks like a very hot tech.

    The downer is a different ISA, which will hurt uptake in some regards.

    It will be interesting to see how the acquisition of MIPS affects this strategy. It may be a play for MIPS' customers. Imagination seems to be making a play for the CPU, and while they may not find themselves in high end products right away, their Meta cores show that they are at the very least applying the same forward-thinking vision that keeps them securely in the lead with PowerVR.
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    3x faster, 25% of the size, what's the big gotcha/caveat surrounding this? I'm assuming there is one....

    I read and it says up to 2x the performance for equivalent size.

    "This unique approach to embedded processor design enables Meta to deliver up to twice the measurable throughput (e.g., Dhrystone) for the same clock speed and silicon area to comparable, state-of-the-art conventional processors."

    Also it sounds like they use a variant on hyper-threading to make the cpu appear as 4 processors and that through very fast context switching can achieve better overall utilization. Anyways, that sounds good, but almost every processor can achieve up to 2x something over it's competitors in specific tests.

    Anyways, unless i totally misread that, it was nothing at all like 3x faster, 25% of size.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    It is a different ISA. When you start with a fresh slate, you can do things a bit better. 3x at 25% area is probably marketing talk when optimized for specific workloads. You can probably find another workload where it is probably 10x worse than the competition.

    Some of the Aptiv cores from MIPS also use 'hyper-threading'. So, MIPS and ImgTec make a nice match there.
  • iwod - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Well the reason why no one said anything is simply because no one knew about it!. I did a search and even anandtech doesn't have an article or a press release on it. How would you expect the world to know if it is not on anandtech site? :D Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    I agree that it's interesting. Using the MIPS team and patents to strengthen Meta is a likely option. When Apple bought PA Semi there was speculation that PA Semi's experience with PowerPC meant that Apple was thinking of using that architecture again, but it used that expertise for producing ARM chips. It's entirely possible that Imagination will use MIPS to strengthen its Meta IP, both on the engineering side and for marketing.

    However it turns out, I think we have some interesting times ahead.
  • Penti - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    Not really, they bought the company that collaborated with Samsung on designing the A4 (Hummingbird) in Texas. We only got to see what the PA Semi guys where up to ones they started to lead work with the Intrinsity team. Much of the skills from PA Semi had already left ship by then, other had joined. They on the other hand had plenty of experience in building SoC's and adapting processor IP – Intrinsity that is. The A6 is clearly a collaboration and merging of the two semi design teams. It would be pretty hard to do without the Intrinsity team. They would just use rebadged Samsung chips if they didn't buy Intrinisty too. They would basically have had to partner up with Intrinsity and Samsung to bring any product from the PA Semi team to market.

    MIPS has a much more robust tool and software support than Meta of course. Just as they went ARM because of strong support for the platform/ISA in tools and software. They would be able to build new MIPS designs with the old Meta team though for no money going to licensing it. Just receiving royalties and selling the IP. I.e. cheaper than trying to sell PPC or MIPS, or ARM physical/synthesizable processor IP without joining up with MTI. Essentially they get to design and sell MIPS cores without paying anything now, use all the patents MTI sold for free. They will probably try to sell SoC IP with their Imagination tech built in like their GPU's. Trying to get/design a more attractive platform to sell. Many ARM licensees goes with other GPU IP vendors. Becoming an ARM licensee would cost them quite some money, especially if they really like to design their own cores. As they probably want to target other markets than mobile devices ISA doesn't really matter that much, just that software is actually able to run at it. Which MTI offers.
  • aryonoco - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    Any commentary on what ImgTech plans to do with MIPS? Do they plan to continue developing it? Are they going to just focus on the markets in which MIPS is strong, and basically is this a move to guarantee that MIPS doesn't enter the mobile Application Processor SoC market?

    MIPS was the pioneer of RISC, and a major part of SGI and DEC workstations. It would be sad if it completely disappears.
  • zzing123 - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    I still remember MIPS from SGI too - I find it ironic that ARM is having problems going into the server space when MIPS used to be the king of the molehill in this department. Reply
  • zzing123 - Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - link

    In fact I think this could prove to be a killer for ARM's server initiative. MIPS isn't exactly a stranger to supercomputing, and PowerVR can do OpenCL too ( though only 1.0.

    So, it'd be interesting to see if we get a server SoC that has several MIPS cores leashed to several PowerVR GPUs to have a very interesting, very scaleable and very low power APU.
  • cocoviper - Thursday, November 08, 2012 - link

    Your job sucks. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now