Thursday, June 2, 2011

MIPS: More than 90% of Android apps can run on any processor architecture

Android has been a hot topic at Computex Taipei this year, with various players discussing the pros and cons of developing apps for the respective hardware platforms such as ARM or x86. However when it comes to the MIPS platform, CEO and president of MIPS, Sandeep Vij pointed out that in terms of the application universe, well over 90% of the apps that are available in the Android marketplace work on MIPS.

Vij explained that some fragmentation has occurred so there are a small percentage of applications developed with native code that will not work between different chips, but Google is taking this issue quite seriously, making people sign anti-fragmentation agreements.

In the Android ecosystem there is a big push to make sure that any app that runs on Android runs on any platform that is able to run Android - x86 to ARM to MIPS - the application should just work. Vij added that MIPS is also working with developers of apps that use native code to port their applications to the MIPS platform and that the process can be as simple as an eight minute recompile.

The company presented its MIPS application development kit at Computex and mentioned that they have handed it out to leading gaming companies so they can develop on MIPS hardware easily. An Angry Birds was running on MIPS in eight minutes and now all versions of Angry Birds are working on MIPS, the company said.

Making sure the company has Android developers supporting the MIPS platform is important as the company makes a move into the consumer-dominated tablet and smartphone market. Although well-known in the embedded market, the company is showcasing a host of mobile devices based on its CPU architecture at a hotel suite during Computex 2011. Among the lineup, there were two tablet PCs using SoCs from MIPS's licensees Actions Semiconductor and Ingenic Semiconductor.

MIPS claimed there are more than 10 SoC developers worldwide leveraging the MIPS architecture for their solutions targeting smartphones and tablets. MIPS said the new Ingenic JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-based XBurst CPU running at 1GHz, is designed for tablets with the availability slated for the third quarter of 2011.

The JZ4770 is the latest in a series of low-power platforms from Ingenic to leverage the MIPS32 architecture for mobile products. Previously released platforms are used in products such as the Cruz tablets from Velocity Micro, and will also be used in the first smartphone from TCL, MIPS said.

MIPS also disclosed it is working with Actions Semiconductor to bring Android 3.0 to a new MIPS-based chipset designed for tablets. The new SoC from Actions leverages a MIPS32 74Kf core running at 1.3GHz, and will be available in the third quarter of 2011.

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