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MIPS ports Honeycomb, chases tablets and Google TV

While the world watches a fight between Intel and its PC dominance and ARM architectures and their cellphone dominance, MIPS Technologies would just l

By PETER WHITE

Published: 28 April, 2011

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While the world watches a fight between Intel and its PC dominance and ARM architectures and their cellphone dominance, MIPS Technologies would just love to be involved in the fight.

It has tried manfully to come up with relevant and timely ports of anything that will help it and this week added a key ingredient in porting Android 3.0 Honeycomb, ready to accommodate new tablet designs, and MIPS also notched up a key design win at Taiwan’s Ali Corp, to use the chip core for its triple play SoC.

MIPS has been highly successful in providing the compute power in many Broadcom chips, especially those which require less processing power such as set top chips, and in December it provided the top of the range Broadcom dual core set top SoC, the BCM 7422 1.34 GHz chip, designed to stand up to the Intel CE Atom range.

But given the way in which the Honeycomb version of Google’s Android has been restricted to a handful of device makers, the success of a port for MIPS is a real feather in its cap. The company said, “MIPS Technologies is now porting this newest version of Android to the MIPS architecture. For MIPS licensees and their customers who want to produce Android compatible devices, this will accelerate development of tablets and Google TV products based on the MIPS architecture.”

Google TV is probably the more significant claim given that Google took the strange step of using Android on an Intel chip architecture it was never designed for (Android was designed initially for ARM chips). Although Google TV has had a less than a welcome reception as a product, ARM and MIPS in particular, just had to come up with a current port, so that they would not lose out on potential set top design wins, diluting a MIPS previous stronghold. Google TV was launched on an earlier version of Android, but we know that it is being integrated into Honeycomb.

“The Android platform has been a game-changer for MIPS Technologies. When we first began working with Android, we focused on opportunities in devices beyond the mobile handset, and indeed we have already seen MIPS-Based televisions, set-top boxes and other products in the market based on Android. Android also opened the door for MIPS to enter the mobile market, and we recently showed the first MIPS-based handsets and tablets. We are excited to continue our work with Android and enable our licensees to quickly bring to market next-generation products with Honeycomb,” said Art Swift, vice president of marketing and business development, MIPS Technologies.

The deal with Ali Corp is to build a hybrid SoC design for DVB-C HD / DVB+IP dual-mode operation, based on the MIPS 24KEf core into something called the M3701G chipset. This will support triple play services and houses high-performance graphics acceleration with built-in QAM (for cable), HDMI, and a two tuners. The M3701G chipset is available now from Ali including support for MPEG-2/4, H.264, AVS, VC-1 and VP8 decoder and an Open VG v1.1 engine.

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