MIPS Warrior core IP: 64-bit processing scales from mobile to high-end servers

September 02, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Intellectual property company, and owner of the MIPS processor architecture Imagination Technologies has disclosed details of the MIPS I-class I6400 CPU family, which it positions as the first IP cores to combine a 64-bit architecture and hardware virtualisation with scalable performance through multi-threading, multi-core and multi-cluster coherent processing.

This generation of 64-bit MIPS Warrior core offers an extended feature set and a performance/power/area mix that will enable a smaller core at the same performance, or a faster core in the same area. Despite the 64-bit/high end aspect, MIPS says that the core(s) will be of interest not only to those building the largest SoCs in 20-nm (and smaller) processes, but will be implemented in relatively mature processes such as 65nm.

Although this is nominally a “mid-range” core offering from MIPS, it raises the question of what constitutes mid-range for this class of IP. The company says that is defined by the size/power profile of the resulting cores, rather than outright processing power, of which, these cores can deliver a lot – especially if the application can use parallel processing. It is the balance of performance, power (Watts) and area, and the top clock frequency, that is the effective metric.

In this announcement, Imagination Tech says it addresses the broadest range of markets of any of its IP; the I6400 series spans efficient, scalable 64-bit performance; simultaneous multi-threading; hardware virtualisation; advanced security; advanced power management; and a 128-bit SIMD architecture. The company anticipates applications across embedded, mobile, digital consumer, advanced communications, networking and storage.

According to Tony King-Smith, Imagination's EVP marketing, “As the industry moves toward instruction set neutrality, customers can now choose a CPU based on its technical superiority. The I6400 is more efficient, flexible and scalable than the competition, and its feature set clearly lends itself to the needs of a wide range of next-generation applications including smartphones and tablets. We know that unique features like multi-threading provide significant advantages for many applications.”