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China link helps MIPS go mobile

January 05, 2011 // Junko Yoshida

China link helps MIPS go mobile

Every conceivable form of media tablet, e-reader and smartphone in the world is wending its way to Las Vegas to perform at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week, and this pilgrimage includes MIPS Technologies.

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The processor IP core company will promote MIPS on Android while unveiling a host of MIPS-based mobile devices in its suite at the show. These mobile devices use systems-on-chips from MIPS licensees including Actions Semiconductor and Ingenic Semiconductor.

MIPS-based mobile devices scheduled to be shown include two smartphones (by two separate unnamed OEMs) and several media tablets. One of the smartphones uses a MIPS-Based Ingenic CPU as an applications processor, while the other uses a MIPS core from Actions Semiconductor for media processing, according to MIPS.

MIPS will also show off Cruz Tablets by Velocity Micro (Reston, Virginia). The Cruz Tablets running on the Android operating system have been on the market since late 2010, sold by Amazon, Borders, Best Buy, Walmart and others.

MIPS, in parallel, is announcing at CES a new licensee: Ingenic Semiconductor. Ingenic, a Beijing, China-based CPU provider founded in 2005, has now officially licensed the MIPS32 architecture for its mobile device SoCs. Ingenic-designed MIPS-based SoCs are, for example, built into Velocity Micros Cruz Tablets.

The connection represented by MIPS-Ingenic-Velocity Micro illustrates an emerging paradigm in the consumer electronics market: A China-developed processor is driving a host of new consumer devices, while a big ODM community based in greater China (i.e. Foxconn) designs and manufactures them, which are, then, promoted by U.S.-based marketing companies like Velocity Micro, who cultivate channel connections with top retailers.

MIPS, fully aware of the new world order in the CE market, has been aggressively courting key players in China and taking advantage of this new convergence, with efforts to pick up more design wins in mobile devices.

MIPSs entry in mobile market

Two design wins in smartphones are particularly significant for MIPS today, especially considering its failure to crack the mobile market, while allowing arch-rival ARM to sew up the mobile market over the past two decades.
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