Warrior charges into chip war

Imagination’s first MIPS based Warrior CPU core will be delivered to device makers by the end of the year.

It will mean the first shots in a war to make the MIPS architecture a more potent rival to ARM and x86.

Imagination is better known for its graphics chips, which are, are already under the bonnet of the pricier smartphones and tablets. Last year it bought MIPS Technologies to try to build a CPU business as well.

MIPS chips are more common in network gear such as routers and gateways, and in home media products including TVs and set-top boxes. Imagination MIPS would work in low-power servers and Android smartphones and tablets.

Warrior chips, also dubbed MIPS Series 5, are part of that cunning plan.

According to PC World,  the first chip will be the MIPS P5600. This is a 32-bit design that will be offered with as many as six cores and a clock speed of 2GHz.

This is twice the performance of the current proAptiv MIPS chips at the same clock speed and manufacturing process.

Imagination said the P5600 will be available for licensing in the current quarter,  which means it should appear in products in about 18 months.

Mark Throndson, Imagination’s director of processor technology marketing said that the Warrior chips can handle 128-bit SIMD, which allows more instructions to be run in parallel, improving performance in areas such as video and audio playback.

There are also hardware virtualisation capabilities which will improve security, because multiple operating systems will be able to run on a single core without those data sets being able to interact.

This will be handy for set-top boxes that have to handle security schemes for Hulu, Amazon and Netflix or banking apps.

The P5600 provides a wider data address space of 40 bits, that will allow it to address more memory than normal 32-bit MIPS processors.

The company has said it will release further Warrior designs next year, including the first 64-bit Warrior CPU.