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Imagination plans new MIPS CPU, PowerVR GPU as it looks to bounce back

Agam Shah | Dec. 20, 2016
Imagination refocuses its business and looks to diversify in IoT, automotive, and VR

The company's strategy is to go after the massive volume opportunity in IoT and networking, rather than go after mobile application processors, said Steve Evans, vice president for business operations at MIPS.

ARM has dominated the mobile device market in recent years. Intel recently quit making mobile CPUs, and MIPS hasn't found success. Only a handful of mobile handsets and tablets have used MIPS CPUs.

But MIPS survives in other markets. Mobileye, which develops autonomous driving systems for cars, already uses MIPS CPUs. There are also many IoT devices, like low-speed LTE modems from Sequans and Altair, using MIPS CPUs.

The company is also pitching the MIPS CPU for robots, drones, and other industrial applications. MIPS CPUs are also being used in wearables, particularly products developed in China.

Imagination has targeted the MIPS CPU at servers in the past but with little success. But the fastest I6500-class CPU is comparable to the top-line ARM processor and is doing well, Evans said. While main CPUs in servers may be based on x86, there's interest for MIPS CPUs in the data-plane element, and companies like Broadcom and Cavium are making networking processors based on MIPS.

Drones and robots

Combining PowerVR and MIPS could provide a powerful chip combination for drones and robots. MIPS can provide the multi-core processing power, while PowerVR will provide the visual computing element, Imagination executives said.

As the company looks to diversify into new markets, the cloud of getting acquired will hang over their head. But it's a public company with multiple shareholders, and it will continue focusing on what it does and won't be distracted, said David Harold, a company spokesman.


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