Custom PC, Issue 112

Custom PC, Issue 112This month, my regular Mobile Tech Watch column takes a look at a name from the dim and distant past that is looking to take on ARM and Intel at their own game: MIPS Technologies.

Back in the mists of time, MIPS was a popular RISC architecture, and its low-power chips compete with ARM in the burgeoning palmtop market. I remember having a Philips Nino, a compact little Windows CE device with a greyscale liquid-crystal display and about 8MB of RAM, which was based on a MIPS-architecture chip. Lovely little thing, it was. Had a blue backlight, like a wristwatch.

But I digress.

In this month’s column, I take a look at how MIPS is trying to get back into the mobile market after a hiatus that saw it relegated to niche high-performance computing products. It’s having a certain amount of success, too: its latest chips already have design wins to rival those of Intel, although clearly aren’t making much of an impact against the giant that is ARM and its multitudinous licensees.

Incidentally, this column was originally due to be published in Issue 111, but an interview with Adapteva about the Parallella highly-parallel development platform took precedence. The piece is still germane, despite a month’s delay, although it is lacking one piece of information which only came to light after the issue had gone to press: MIPS is being acquired by low-power graphics specialist Imagination Technology, possibly as a play to produce its own system-on-chip designs with in-house CPU and GPU components.

Custom PC Issue 112 is available from pretty much any supermarket or newsagent, most corner shops, some libraries, and wherever dead-tree magazines are normally found, or can be downloaded as a string of zeroes and ones from the Zinio website.

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