MIPS Technologies has begun licensing IP for what it considers to be an Atom-challenging quad-core SoC design dubbed the MIPS32 1074K Coherent Processing System (CPS).
The MIPS32 1074K CPS will support up to four full 74K cores (integer or FPU) per SoC and is intended to be buried in set-top boxes, digital TVs, Blu-ray players, networking devices and, MIPS suggests, its kit would also make a fine media device / tablet computer if paired up with Android. However, if this is MIPS we're talking about, that's just a power-word to catch headlines, as MIPS is also used for Windows CE and some Linux distributions.
A triple-core-based SoC will, according to MIPS, enable a processing experience equal to x2.5 the performance of a single core hyper-threaded Intel Atom processor, yet with a minute power consumption and smaller footprint. In fact, if the specs are to be trusted a simple dual-core 1074 SoC built on TSMC's 40nm process running at 1.5GHz will sip just 640mW.
MIPS, a bit like ARM, intends to license this IP to any takers - although there's one already in the pipe the company isn't willing to give away just yet. The company is betting on the fact that you can eke a reasonable amount of performance for a lower cost and customised approach to bring home some licensees.
If you look at what's ahead for MIPS, the firm is more or less on par with ARM in terms of power consumption, although the ecosystem isn't nearly as wide as ARM's. On the other hand ARM has already begun licensing IP for its Cortex A-15 Eagle design, a design whose chips are only expected in 2013. Also, Intel's Atom will only become truly competitive once it hits the 22nm node in a couple of years' time, so if MIPS delivers these chips this October, as it has promised, it'll have a significant leg-up on the competition.