Eweek, May 23 –
Vendors like MIPS owner Imagination, Broadcom and Qualcomm are looking to drive MIPS adoption with the Prpl Foundation.
Imagination Technologies is taking the open-source route in hopes of driving wider adoption of its low-power MIPS processor architecture in everything from small devices that are part of the Internet of things to servers and networking gear that run in data centers.
Imagination and several other vendors—including Broadcom, Qualcomm, Cavium and PMC—have created an open-source consortium that is designed to draw in developers who want to make software that can run on a range of systems powered by MIPS processors.
“For Imagination, this is an important new initiative in the further development of the MIPS ecosystem,” Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie said in a statement. “With more than 3 billion units shipped, MIPS is one of the world’s leading CPU architectures.”
There was a time when MIPS was among the leading RISC processor architectures, running in systems from the likes of Silicon Graphics (SGI) and communications products from Cisco Systems and others, Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64, told eWEEK. However, it struggled over the past few years as its ownership changed, going from independent to being under SGI’s control and then back to being independent.
“A lot of potential users of MIPS were reluctant to invest in MIPS because they were not sure about its future,” Brookwood said.
According to Imagination officials, the data center is one of several market segments the Prpl Foundation will focus on, with others including networking, digital home and the embedded and Internet of things (IoT) spaces. The foundation will serve as a resource depot that developers can leverage to create applications and devices for both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.
The foundation will be a repository for a range of open-source projects based on the MIPS architecture and for everything from tool chains and libraries to debuggers and software.
Insight 64’s Brookwood said Imagination officials “have a chance [to succeed]. It’s not a done deal.”
However, creating the Prpl Foundation was another smart move in a world that is becoming even more open source, he said. Linux grew up in the x86 environment, so Intel and AMD have an edge there. The Linaro Group is working to build out the ecosystem around ARM’s architecture in the data center, while IBM is looking to OpenPower for help.
Imagination is taking a different approach than Linaro, which is essentially focused on Linux and the data center, Brookwood said. With Prpl, Imagination is opening the architecture to a range of platforms, from Google’s Android and WebOS to Tizen and the various flavors of Linux, including Red Hat and Ubuntu. That range will be important, he said.