Imagination intros its first ‘Warrior,’ the MIPS P5600 CPU core

Imagination Technologies has introduced the first CPU core of the MIPS Series5 "Warrior" lineup it announced in June. The P5600 is a 32-bit core aimed at low-power mobile and embedded devices. Thanks to the MIPS Release 5 ISA, this core supports 128-bit SIMD computation and hardware-assisted virtualization. This new MIPS ISA also allows for 64-bit instructions, as a superset of the 32-bit execution path, but this particular core doesn’t support the extra bits.

Still, the P5600 can access up to a terabyte of memory via virtual addressing. The mobile devices Imagination Tech is targeting won’t have nearly that much memory, but the company notes that the CPU can also be used for networking applications and microservers that may demand more memory than the average smartphone or tablet.

Imagination has designed the P5600 to participate in a CPU cluster that combines up to six cores behind a "coherence manager" that packs up to 8MB of L2 cache. When built using the high-performance mobile variant of TSMC’s 28-nm fabrication process, the individual cores can apparently scale up to 2GHz. Imagination Tech doesn’t quote power figures, but it says the P5600 offers "industry-leading single thread performance … at significantly lower power than its competitors."

Imagination Technologies is best known for producing the PowerVR graphics technology used in Apple’s SoCs. Those chips feature CPU cores compatible with the ARM instruction set, which is much more popular than MIPS, at least in the mobile world. With AMD working on ARM-based chips, Qualcomm and Nvidia both firmly entrenched in the ARM camp, and Intel bringing x86-compatible processors to the mobile market, it will be interesting to see what’s left for MIPS-based CPUs like the P5600.

Comments closed
    • Prospero424
    • 6 years ago

    So are these aimed at embedded networking applications? Up until the very latest generation, it’s been hard to find a consumer-level gateway router that was NOT powered by borderline-inadequate MIPS designs.

    My next router will be a dual-core ARM design regardless…

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 6 years ago

    I’m getting my Patty Smyth on right now.

    • tipoo
    • 6 years ago

    I’ll be very interested in seeing how this compares to ARM cores. Imagination makes the best SoC GPU hardware out there, I want to see their CPU chops.

    Interesting going with MIPS instead of ARM though. Android may be able to (can it?) run on both, but not other platforms.

    • brucethemoose
    • 6 years ago

    MIPS and ARM are both very old ISAs, and are pretty similar. Having 2 similar, competing, closed ISAs sharing the same space doesn’t sound like the best idea… does MIPS even have any major advantages over ARM?

      • tipoo
      • 6 years ago

      That’s what I’m wondering, why MIPS? They could have gotten an ARM ISA only licence and built a very similar core from the ground up around that too, and not sacrificed compatibility.

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        No point in paying for ARM license when you own MIPS

          • bthylafh
          • 6 years ago

          They’ll crash and burn just the same.

          • tipoo
          • 6 years ago

          Broad industry compatibility seems like a good reason, but you are right in their motivation, I had forgotten MIPS is now owned by them. Although, the purchase may have made sense at the time, now it seems odd to throw a third ISA into the mix.

        • Pwnstar
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]Why MIPS?[/quote<] Why not Zoidberg? [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSJ9IiaEQ9g[/url<]

        • Unknown-Error
        • 6 years ago

        China is going MIPS crazy. Their “Loongson” is now fully MIPS compatible and the futuristic UPU has some MIPS (ish) in it.

          • ermo
          • 6 years ago

          Yeah, MIPS may end up being for China what x86 was to the US — the de facto standard.

          Good thing Linux runs on both x86, ARM, MIPS and PowerPC, effectively rendering the ISA less important.

        • dragosmp
        • 6 years ago

        Feature phones, there’s still a huge market for them. The M3 could be in that space, but afaik the M3 is a larger core (more expensive and more capable) than what MIPS is selling, but for a feature phone that’s not needed, nor do you need compatibility with smartphone OS.

      • WillBach
      • 6 years ago

      ARMv8 is vastly different from previous ARM architectures. I don’t know how different MIPS Release 5 is from previous releases but I wouldn’t call either ISA old anymore 🙂

      – my opinion, not my employer’s.

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        I was trying to look that up, but the mips.com site isn’t responding. 🙁

          • tipoo
          • 6 years ago

          Their servers are probably powered by MIPS.

          • faramir
          • 6 years ago

          It’s working fine for me.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    My, how times have changed. Back in the 90’s MIPS used to be far more relevant, with major consoles such as the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1 being prime examples of systems using the ISA, and the MIPS R10000 (aka T5) was a real server CPU not to be taken lightly. Now they actually look like a has-been whose face people have forgotten, trying to make a comeback.

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]"industry-leading single thread performance ... at significantly lower power than its competitors."[/quote<] I wonder what that 'industry' is.. because I've heard Xeons has a pretty good single-thread performance that I somehow doubt this 2GHz MIPS core can beat

      • Concupiscence
      • 6 years ago

      There are lots of those industries, all of them manufacturing products beholden to tiny power restrictions. A Xeon’s a brute and a half soldered together into a new and more nightmarish brute from a performance perspective. But there’s no way to leverage that blistering IPC for something that will be incapable of drawing more than a low single-digit number of watts. By the time you got done stripping things out of the Xeon to make it fit there, what you’d have wouldn’t really *be* a Xeon any more.

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        Avaton.

          • faramir
          • 6 years ago

          Avoton, as it is called, is based on Silvermont (= Atom) core, the only relation of which to modern day Xeon processors is a subset of x86/AMD64 ISA/feature set that Silvermont implements, and the fact that both are manufactured by Intel.

            • Klimax
            • 6 years ago

            Also it is intended for low power servers and similar use cases.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Die shots, or it didn’t happen.

      • faramir
      • 6 years ago

      Die shots of IP ?

        • ronch
        • 6 years ago

        IP themselves aren’t much use without implementation. This goes for licensed IPs. The licensor earns but it has to be implemented to be useful.

    • willmore
    • 6 years ago

    I’m curious to see how this performs. MIPS has been left out of most the mainline hardware for a while. It’ll be interesting to see if the compiler support and such is there for MIPS, still. ARM and x86 are a given, but even there, the ARM lags a bit. MIPS is even further behind ARM in that respect, so it’s got something to prove.

    Why they chose MIPS over the obvious other options of ARM and Alpha could use some explaining. Has Imagination said anything about ‘why MIPS’?

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 6 years ago

      Alpha is dead, and it has been for years.

      MIPS has been workhorse of the embedded sector, and it’s been able to scale up and down the power and performance spectrum. MIPS is most famous for powering SGI Irix workstations.

      GCC supports MIPS. (http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc/MIPS-Options.html)

      The Chinese love MIPS. That is ‘why MIPS’.

        • I.S.T.
        • 6 years ago

        Actually, it’s because IMG owns MIPS now.

          • Flatland_Spider
          • 6 years ago

          These are high perf chips. That’s not really where MIPS plays these days. MIPS is used in many defense industry projects, and IMG only owns MIPS because the US Government didn’t want a Chinese company owning the ISA embedded in it’s DoD equipment.

          IMG could have just as easily EoLed MIPS and produced an ARM replacement. Which would have made more sense given ARM’s buzzword status, except the Chinese market is huge, and the Chinese are pushing MIPS as their ISA of choice. The Chinese are the only ones who want high performance MIPS chips. It’s 2013, SGI is a shell of it’s former self, and x86 has decimated the market for RISC workstations.

          In short, China is the only reason we’re even talking about MIPS today. Otherwise it would be some nameless chip

      • cpu
      • 6 years ago

      ARM owns CPU and GPU IP.
      Imagination may have better prospects also having both, as there are now many GPU IP vendors.

      • Turd-Monkey
      • 6 years ago

      MIPS still has a strong presence in (consumer) routers and access points. (Used in Broadcom, Atheros and Ralink’s wifi SoCs)

      It’s also interesting that Atheros products have continued to use MIPS cores even after they were purchased by Qualcomm. (Though that was only in 2011.)

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, I’m aware of that, but those are high volume/low performance applications where they’re probably compiling for size, not speed. I don’t doubt that the compilers work, just how much love an attention does that bring back to the tools.

        Your observation about MIPS and Atheros in the post Qualcomm aquisition is interesting. I’d think–if they wanted to–that they would have been able to get out a part with their ARM cores in them. So, why haven’t they?

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]Has Imagination said anything about 'why MIPS'?[/quote<] Yes - [url=http://www.imgtec.com/News/Release/index.asp?NewsID=724<]Imagination bought MIPS[/url<]

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        That would do it, thanks.

      • adisor19
      • 6 years ago

      Cause they bought MIPS.

      Adi

    • Star Brood
    • 6 years ago

    Oh jeeze, I thought we finally had a new contender for x86

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      X86 will probably continue its grip on the traditional PC market, but the industry is shifting elsewhere, and it’s anybody’s guess who will ultimately control the new frontiers of computing, which is obviously ARM at present. But if they’re not careful Intel may well surpass them. MIPS? I don’t know. Frankly, I think it’s a long shot.

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