MIPS Enters the Tablet Market & Wants to Power Sets Based on Google TV

Like ARM, MIPS Technologies designs processor architectures that other companies use to make chips, and it wants in on the tablet, smartphone and smart TV boom. It too has been watching the fight between Intel and ARM for supremacy and has decided to get involved.

This week it added a key ingredient in porting the Honeycomb version of Android so it can secure wins for new tablets and smart TVs that use Honeycomb like those based on the Google TV platform.

MIPS has been highly successful in providing the compute power in many Broadcom chips, especially those that require less processing power such as chips for set-top boxes. 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-welcome initial reception, ARM and MIPS had to come up with a port so that they would not lose out on potential set top design wins, diluting a traditional MIPS stronghold.

Google TV was launched based on an earlier version of Android, but it is being integrated into Honeycomb.

Art Swift, VP of marketing and business development at MIPS, said, “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.“

Announcing its first-quarter financial results, CEO Sandeep Vij said, “We announced the first MIPS-based mobile handsets and tablets during the quarter, and also received our first mobile-related royalties for these devices. These are significant milestones for MIPS as we continue to make inroads into the mobile device market.“

MIPS also notched up a key design win at Taiwan’s Ali Corp, which will use MIPS’ chip core for a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that will support triple-play services and houses high-performance graphics acceleration with built-in QAM for the cablecos, HDMI and two tuners.

Ali makes processors for pay-TV company STBs that support HD, SD MPEG2/H.264 video decoding plus integrated Smart Card, USB and HDMI interfaces. It claims its processors offer “better quality and more competitive cost than our competitors.“

This article originally appeared in Faultline.

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