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Imagination Technologies takes aim at ARM, reveals new "Warrior" CPU core

Imagination Technologies has just announced its new "Warrior" CPU cores, which will put the company head to head with ARM powered mobile processors.
June 26, 2013
Imagination Technologies MIPS

Well this is just typical, the day after I finish the processor round-up for the past few months, someone comes along with a big new announcement. Imagination Technologies has just released some information on a new range of CPU cores which will be introduced before the end of the year.

Following the company’s recent $100 million acquisition of MIPS, Imagination Technologies has been working on a new range of CPU cores known as the MIPS Series 5, or if you prefer the codename – Warrior.

Imagination Technologies is already a big player in the mobile hardware market; it produces the PowerVR range of graphics processors used in a number of smartphone SoCs, such as the new Exynos 5 Octa which powers the Galaxy S4. These new processor cores will be based entirely on the MIPS architecture which, when combined with its own GPU technologies, could offer some serious competition to ARM and Intel, providing that the performance is up to scratch.

Currently all of the big mobile chip manufactures, with the exception of Intel, are using or licensing ARM’s architectures, but Imagination Tech’s new CPU cores will offer handset developers another alternative to the traditional ARM setup, which actually could potentially worry Intel more than ARM.

MIPS Series 5 Warrior

Details on the specifics of the new architecture are brief at the moment, but we do know that the processors will be available in the traditional single, dual, and quad-core setups, so no eight core monster on the horizon at the moment. The company will be targeting everything from low end devices to high performance pieces of hardware.

Interestingly, the new cores will have the option of utilizing MIPS multithreading (MT) technology. MIPS’ multi-threading is somewhat similar to the Hyper-threading technology used in some on Intel’s processors, which, put simply, makes a single processor core appear as two separate cores to the operating system. The goal being to improve multi-threaded performance, whilst being more energy efficient and cheaper to implement than using two real processor cores.

The Warrior CPUs will also come in 34-bit and 64-bit variants, which is in line with what we are expecting from the next generation of ARM Cortex-A50 processors as well.

I’m personally looking forward to the shake-up that this could cause in the mobile processor market, it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

Imagination reveals key elements of its new MIPS CPU roadmap

MIPS Aptiv generation updated; new 32/64-bit MIPS ‘Warrior’ generation added to roadmap

London, UK – 26 June, 2013 – Imagination Technologies (IMG.L), a leading multimedia, processor,communications and cloud technologies company, announces new details about its current and future MIPS CPU portfolio.

Imagination has updated its current portfolio of MIPS Aptiv cores, extending each of the Aptiv families with new core configurations. In addition, later this year Imagination will start rolling out an entire generation of new MIPS CPUs, including 32-bit and 64-bit cores. The new MIPS Series5 generation of CPU cores, codenamed ‘Warrior,’ will incorporate new architectural features and provide best-inclass performance and efficiency for a wide range of applications.

New in MIPS Aptiv

Imagination has extended the award-winning MIPS Aptiv generation of cores, adding a very smallfootprint single-core version to the interAptiv family and a floating point version to the microAptiv family. The high-performance proAptiv, multi-threaded interAptiv and compact microAptiv families of cores, are all available in refined, validated configurations offering industry-leading low power and efficiency for today’s designs.

• The proAptiv family comes in configurations from single through to six-core versions with optional hardware floating point.
• The interAptiv family includes hardware multi-threading and now comes in single-, dual- and quad-core configurations with optional floating point. The new single-core version of interAptiv removes the extra logic associated with multi-core coherency and L2 cache controller, providing a highly-efficient, multi-threaded single-core processor.
• The microAptiv family is available in versions targeting microcontrollers and deeply embedded processors, and now incorporates an optional hardware floating point unit for applications including electric metering and motor control.

MIPS Roadmap

Imagination will introduce next-generation MIPS ‘Warrior’ cores later this year. Details of the cores are already being shared with key MIPS customers. The ‘Warrior’ generation of cores will include 32-bit and 64-bit variants with a focus on superior performance efficiency across the high-end, mid-range and entry-level/microcontroller CPUs. These cores are based on the heritage of MIPS, the industry’s most efficient RISC architecture, targeted to deliver the best performance and lowest power consumption in a given silicon area.

Building on the true 32-bit and 64-bit instruction set compatibility of MIPS, ‘Warrior’ cores will provide binary compatibility from the entry-level to the high-end. 64-bit ‘Warrior’ cores have no need for excess ‘baggage’ to execute legacy 32-bit code, and the broad range of tools and applications built for the 64-bit MIPS architecture over the past 20+ years will seamlessly work with ‘Warrior’ cores.

Key ‘Warrior’ features will include:

• Hardware virtualization across the entire range of cores, providing compelling benefits for applications from compute-intense enterprise environments to energy efficient mobile platforms
• MIPS hardware multi-threading technology, enabling better overall throughput, quality of service (QoS), and power/performance efficiency in select ‘Warrior’ cores
• Imagination’s unique, extensible and highly scalable security framework for applications including content protection on mobile devices, secure networking protocols and payment services
• MIPS SIMD architecture (MSA), built on instructions designed to be easily supported within high-level languages such as C or OpenCL for fast and simple development of new code, as well as leverage of existing code
• A consistent and comprehensive toolchain across the ‘Warrior’ series for fast, easy development and debugging

MIPS – the choice in CPU IP

Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination, says: “The industry is longing for a choice in the CPU market, and we are making MIPS a clear and superior alternative. We have an outstanding range of cores available today and that will be complemented by our forthcoming ‘Warrior’ cores, which will provide levels of performance, efficiency and functionality that go beyond other offerings in the market.

“As we share Imagination’s comprehensive, market-leading MIPS core roadmap with customers worldwide, we are receiving an overwhelmingly positive response. With MIPS, we are creating a solution that a wide range of customers can benefit from and commit to for the long term, across applications ranging from tiny embedded devices to 64-bit many-core products for networking and beyond. We are confident that as we roll out the technologies on our MIPS roadmap, we will change the landscape for CPU IP.”

Says J. Scott Gardner, senior analyst, The Linley Group / Microprocessor Report: “The MIPS Aptiv CPU core portfolio was named the ‘Best Processor IP of 2012′ in The Linley Group’s annual Analysts’ Choice Awards, as a broad portfolio spanning virtually every processor category. The MIPS ‘Warrior’ generation is designed to include an even greater range of functionality to address rapidly changing markets. If Imagination does as great a job with the new MIPS generation as it has done with PowerVR GPUs, then the industry will have another strong player in the CPU IP space.”

Since completing the MIPS acquisition earlier this year, Imagination has completed integration of its CPU engineering teams, nearly doubling the resources working on leading-edge MIPS CPU development. The company is deploying significant investments in MIPS development, including tools, compilers, debuggers, operating systems, software and more. Imagination is developing the MIPS presence in key segments such as mobile by continuing to grow the MIPS ecosystem, and by exploiting open operating systems and emerging trends toward architecture neutrality and portability.

About MIPS processors

Imagination’s family of MIPS processors are ideal for products where ultra low-power, compact silicon area and a high level of integration are required. MIPS processor IP cores and architectures range from ultra-low power 32-bit microcontrollers to scalable 32-bit and 64-bit multi-core solutions for advanced application and network processing platforms. Based on a heritage built and continuously innovated over more than three decades, Imagination’s MIPS architecture is the industry’s most efficient RISC architecture, delivering the best performance and lowest power consumption in a given silicon area. SoC designers can use this efficiency advantage for significant cost and power savings, or to implement additional cores to deliver a performance advantage in the same power, thermal and area budget.

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies – a global leader in multimedia, processor, communication and cloud technologies – creates and licenses market-leading processor solutions including graphics, video, vision, CPU and embedded processing, multi-standard communications, cross-platform V.VoIP and VoLTE and cloud connectivity. These silicon and software intellectual property (IP) solutions for systems-on-chip (SoC) are complemented by an extensive portfolio of software, tools and ecosystems. Target markets include mobile phone, connected home consumer, mobile and tablet computing, in-car electronics, networking, telecoms, health, smart energy and connected sensors.

Imagination’s licensees include many of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and OEM/ODMs. Corporate headquarters are located in the United Kingdom, with sales and R&D offices worldwide. See: