|Емкая, хотя и несколько критиканская статья про MIPS в EE Times
||[Feb. 9th, 2010|10:25 pm]
Хотя я и не пиарщик, а инженер, я начинаю каждое утро с прочитывания всех статей про MIPS в мировой прессе. Кое-что я сбрасываю на Твиттер, часть буду складировать в ЖЖ (в основном для собственных нужд, ибо местные это и так знают, а в России считают, что статьи про Железо должны сопровождаться сиськами). Итак:
Месяц назад журналист Junko Yoshida из Electronic Engineering Times написал весьма емкую аналитическую статью с его личными пожеланиями будущему президенту MIPS-а (в то время старый президент объявил о выходе на пенсию, а новый еще не был нанят).
В статье затронуты следующие моменты:
* Альянс MIPS Technologies c крупнейшим в мире производителем микроконтроллеров Microchip Technology Inc. Роль новых процессоров MIPS M14K и M14Kc с декодером для компактных 16-битных инструкций, маленьким размером и низким электропотреблением.
* Альянс MIPS Technologies c Altera - компанией #2 на рынке FPGA.
* Отношения MIPS c Institute of Computing Technology Китайской Академии Наук рассматриваются аналитиками как совершенно критические для распостранения MIPS-архитектуры в Китае и во всем мире.
* Три приоритета в 2010: Android для цифровых телевизоров, помощь разработчиками программного обеспечения и подрыв монополии компании ARM в мобильных устройствах.
Analysis: To-do list for the next MIPS CEO
(12/30/2009 6:31 AM EST)
PARIS — As John Bourgoin, leader of MIPS Technologies for more than a decade as president and CEO, retires Thursday (Dec. 31), his successor will find plenty on his plate. The new chief's to-do list includes: defending its turf against ARM; further proliferating its cores in new markets; and re-energizing the company as a new offensive player in the IP processor market.
To be fair, MIPS has already planted some new seeds -- critical to the company's long-term growth -- enabling a foray into the microcontroller and FPGA markets. The company's new efforts include the development of M14K core for microcontrollers, the introduction of new microMIPS instruction-set architecture, and a new architecture licensing deal with Altera.
A MIPS-based CPU in China -- enabled by the granting of an architectural license to the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) backed by Chinese government agency -- is viewed by analysts as also critical in helping MIPS architecture proliferate in China and elsewhere.
Three priorities for MIPS in 20101 are: focus on Android in the digital TV and digital consumer; facilitating software developers' ability to work with MIPS architecture; and eliminating ARM's monopoly in mobile devices," according to Art Swift, vice president of marketing at MIPS Technologies who recently spoke with EE Times.
Juggling all these different initiatives without losing focus, however, is the hard part.
In the past, electronics industry observers have been critical of Bourgoin's stewardship, faulting him for sleeping through the explosion of the mobile handset market, as MIPS eventually ceded the cell-phone segment entirely to ARM. Some in the financial community also blamed the long-time MIPS CEO for taking its eye off the ball in the CPU segment by acquiring ChipIdea, an analog IP company, which MIPS ended up divesting only after 18 months.
But the biggest blow to MIPS came this year, as ARM signed up STMicroelectronics, one of the world's leading set-top-box chip makers, to adopt the ARM Corte-A9 MP Core processor, in addition to the Mali-400 graphics processor.
This was particularly painful to MIPS, because the digital TV and digital consumer market is a core segment where it has always dominated.
Gary Mobley, a sell-side analyst from Noble Financial Capital Markets, told EE Times, "Had MIPS won ST, as ST transitions its TV and set-top box SoCs away from the ST core, MIPS would have made out like a bandit." He added, "ST could have been as large of customer to MIPS as Broadcom is today. Unfortunately for MIPS, ARM won ST."
Both industry and financial analysts agree on one thing: The new CEO's top priority at MIPS must be a substantial investment in building a solid MIPS software ecosystem.
Joseph Byrne, a senior analyst at The Linley Group, said, "A key area of strength for MIPS Technologies is the consumer sector. The company must defend its position here, and a strong offense is the best defense. The company must invest not just in continually improving its CPUs but also in complementary software."
Noble Financial Capital Markets' Mobley noted: "I believe MIPS will select its new CEO based on his/her ability to transform the company from being primarily a hardware- centric company."
Mobley believes the company will attempt to bolster its software ecosystem, hoping to garner more types of operating systems and middleware capable of running on MIPS-based hardware. "I think MIPS will need to do this in order to defend against ARM," he said.
How important is Android?
Where industry's opinion diverges is how important Android will be for MIPS' future growth.
Linley Group's Byrne called MIPS's investments in Android "a step in the right direction." But he added, "Longer term, the company must invest in technology to improve its position in other sectors. Possibly the investment in Android for digital consumer systems translates into a position in smartphones, but there are a ton of other opportunities for MIPS to grow its presence."
Similarly, Mobley said, "I am not real sure how Android is going to play out for MIPS."
Just as ARM's "smartbook appeal" has contributed to the hype in ARM's shares these days, investors may have to take a deep breath before embracing MIPS' drive into the emerging Android-based consumer market.
MIPS' Swfit, however, begs to differ.
Swift said MIPS's major push in Android has already resulted in a number of "real" Android-based products, which will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.
With or without Android, Mobley, however, sees MIPS as a key beneficiary of the emerging netbook market.
He wrote in his research note this year that "We would be hard pressed to find an investor who believes MIPS has a toehold in the netbook CPU market. The reality is, however, that a significant portion of the China netbook market should utilize a MIPS-based processor."
Byrne also called MIPS granting of an architectural license to ICT for their Longsoon/Godson processor a "most significant move." He noted that with so much design work being done in Asia, this deal will help MIPS expand into new markets.
Further, Mobley believes MIPS will gain a share in supplemental media processing chips used in the netbook segment. He noted, "The newest version of Intel's Atom processor should pull demand for Broadcom's media processor, which is a MIPS-based chips."
Additionally, MIPS should also benefit from Intel's recent move to unbundle WiFi chipsets from processors, Mobley said. This is because Intel's WiFi solution uses a combination of ARC and ARM cores. In contrast, PC WiFi solutions from Atheors, Broadcom, Realteck, and Ralink use MIPS, according to Mobley. "If Intel concedes $200 million in WiFi revenue to MIPS-based WiFi solutions, MIPS' total revenue could experience a 4% to 5% boost from the incremental royalties," he noted.
Microcontroller and FPGA markets
After all, though, the key drivers for MIPS' growth may not be either Android or netbooks. Rather they may be in the microcontroller and FPGA markets.
Mobley said, "I think the Microchip relationship offers the biggest catalyst for MIPS' royalty revenue growth; however, Altera will also be an important driver for MIPS. Both Altera and Microchip royalties paid to MIPS will take several years to reach peak potential."
Mobley said, "The new [M14K core] 'thumb' architecture (something able to resemble 16-bit width) was developed for Microchip." He believes Microchip will be first to take the instruction set architecture agreement from MIPS, "which could yield a $5 million to $10 million license fee for MIPS during calendar 2010."
Mobley noted that Microchip, through its multiple license arrangements with MIPS, will likely generate significant royalties for MIPS of the next 10-plus years. While Altera's architecture license agreement has generated a lot of speculation -- in terms of what Altera do with it -- Mobley believes Altera has plans to promote MIPS as a third-party option for users of Altera's FPGAs.
Against all the odds, however, MIPS is adamant about moving aggressively into the mobile device market.
"We will open up MIPS architecture to mobile," said Swift.
MIPS' Swift promised that 2010 will be the first year for MIPS-based mobile devices, if not a mobile handset, to appear, breaking ARM's monopoly.
MIPS is determined to attack "ARM's weak underbelly," he said. "Besides, nobody likes monopoly and vendors are looking for alternative solutions."
In the end, the key challenge for MIPS is "to strike a balance between optimizing a product offering for a particular segment and leveraging R&D investment across multiple markets," Bryne pointed out.
Byrne said, "CPU suppliers traditionally emphasized the latter: create one core and sell it to as many customers as possible. Today, a CPU must be complemented by software and other technology and tailored for a specific segment."
The danger is that it's possible to over-invest in one segment, which may not become a big growth market.
Investing in the software eco-system is a no-brainer. But making the right bet on a specific segment will ultimately determine the success of MIPs' new CEO and the future of MIPS.
А теперь что думает об этом наш новый президент:
New CEO Sandeep Vij forms 'Team MIPS'
(02/07/2010 6:13 PM EST)
NEW YORK — Signing Sandeep Vij as its new CEO may turn out to be just what MIPS Technologies needed, as the world's number two processor IP company struggles to steal the spotlight back from ARM -- both in media attention and the industry's mindshare.
CEO, MIPS Technologies
When EE Times recently caught up with him on his ninth day at MIPS, Vij was already as natural and enthusiastic a spokesman for MIPS as any experienced CEO could be.
Vij acknowledged that when he was approached to take the helm at MIPS, he was already "quite familiar with MIPS," as its customer and as a student of MIPS architecture.
Prior to joining MIPS, Vij was vice president and general manager of the broadband and consumer division of Cavium Networks, a MIPS architecture licensee.
Vij -- now 44 years old -- studied at Stanford University as a grad student under John Hennessy. Hennessy, now president of Stanford University, co-founded in 1984 MIPS Computer Systems, now MIPS Technologies, when he was director of the university's Computer Systems Laboratory. Vij remembers the days when "Prof. Hennessy handed out to the class every chapter of his upcoming MIPS book, because the book wasn't finished yet."
Today, Vij speaks of his affinity for MIPS, humbly citing the company's "incredible heritage." He is also fluent in explaining "the elegance, efficiency and simplicity" of MIPS' architecture.
For Vij, life has truly come in full circle.
Do all these connections with MIPS make Vij feel as though he deserves this job? "No," said Vij sternly. "Not until I can make an impact" on the company and on the MIPS community, he said.
Despite the MIPS knowledge he has accumulated over time, there was one thing the new CEO wasn't prepared for: an incredible number of well wishers in the industry pulling for MIPS. Vij said he was "flabbergasted" with so many e-mail, texting and voice messages he received from MIPS customers, since he took the job.
"Team MIPS," said Vij, "is much more than just one company or one building surrounded by four walls, I've found out." By "Team MIPS," Vij means all the companies that use MIPS cores in chips, MIPS architecture licensees, and those who develop tools, platforms and software that run on MIPS.
"They all have tremendous loyalty for MIPS. They all want us to succeed," Vij explained. "When you have that many well wishers, you know you can lean on them."
There is no doubt that his first-hand experience with those on Team MIPS will form the basis for a stronger MIPS "eco-system" -- which many industry and financial analysts for years have been saying that MIPS sorely needs to nurture.
But, then, what exactly is MIPS doing for Team MIPS?
Vij said MIPS is spending more on its eco-system, with $2 million set aside for the coming quarter. "We are making a critical shift in our mindset. We have a clear understanding that it's not just chips or cores that are important to MIPS, but it's platforms, tools, partners and eco-system" that matter to the future of MIPS.
In the quarter ending Sept. 2009 alone, 126 million chips " based on MIPS " shipped to the market, said Vij. "That speaks volume and momentum behind MIPS." Naturally, the strong unit volume potential is critical for building strong Team MIPS, he added.
MIPS will also make sure that all the major operating systems, middleware and application stacks are supported on MIPS, said Vij. "We also make sure that we have reference designs, and verification tools" that can be shared by Team MIPS.
The key here is "rather than having an individual MIPS licensee go out and do things for itself," he said, MIPS needs to figure out "the Team MIPS approach" that can be effectively shared and implemented among its partners. Vij explained, "I want true collaborations to happen, and a number of leading companies that use MIPS cores to think that it was good to be part of Team MIPS."
Vij believes MIPS was well on its way to pull that off even before his arrival. "Many elements to improve the ecosystem are in place. The company is already committed to good, aggressive roadmaps," said Vij. "The company may have made less effort in sharing them with its customers, but I know the customers will be happy, once they see them."
Taking pages off the playbook at Xilinx
Before Cavium Networks, Vij was on the executive staff of Xilinx Inc. During his 12-year tenure at Xilinx, he is said to have been instrumental in tripling the company's business to over $1.8 billion per year.
At MIPS, Vij won't be shy in taking pages off the playbook he used at Xilinx and Cavium -- namely, bringing products with a high-end market presence down to a higher volume area, making a clear shift in the corporate strategy from a product to "solutions," with an almost fanatical emphasis on software, IP cores and ecosystems necessary in vertical applications.
That's exactly what Vij did in the mid 90's when Xilinx, focused on individual FPGA products, was losing market share. "Those were the days when a lot of people did not believe in low-cost FPGA efforts," recalled Vij. But with the introduction of the Spartan family, Xilinx shifted its effort to a solution-based approach, targeting applications with a low-power footprint, extremely low cost and high volume.
As vice president and general manager of Xilinx' general products divisions, Vij managed all aspects of product planning, IC design, product engineering, technology implementation, manufacturing strategy and marketing. Vij believes that such a performance-oriented culture "re-ignited" Xilinx. "I've seen it work," he said.
While shrugging off his impressive resume, Vij talks -- with a touch of humility and even a sense of awe -- about the many technologists, founders and CEOs in the Valley who have preceded him.
Growing up in the Valley
Vij arrived in California from India at the age of one, when his father came to study at Berkeley. Vij literally grew up in the Bay Area, still remembering when a majority of the Valley was covered by orchards.
Encouraged by his father (who worked at GE's nuclear energy division) and uncles who worked in the Valley, young Sandeep's heros weren't professional athletes, but "tech gurus like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Andy Grove and Scott McNealy," said Vij.
Asked about the deciding moment that turned him into an engineer, Vij said, without hesitation, "Apple II Plus" (introduced in 1979). Vij said, "I was already hooked with the machine at my friend's house, playing 'Castle Wolfenstein.' But I pushed my parents to buy it for spreadsheets and word processing."
Vij soon went beyond 'Castle Wolfenstein.' Unable to contain his curiosity, he opened up an Apple II Plus, and took it apart, studying every component under the hood. He didn't know it then, but he had just laid out before himself the pieces of his future.
For the time being, the new CEO isn't saying much, though, as far as the company's strategy is concerned.
Financial analyst Gary Mobley in the past described MIPS' relationships with Microchip (microcontrollers) and Altera (FPGAs) as something that could "generate significant royalties for MIPS of the next 10-plus years."
When asked about what specific market segments MIPS hopes to penetrate through such MIPS-based microcontrollers and FPGAs, Vij said, "I am reserving the right to outline our future strategy." He noted: "First, we want to listen to our customers. This is a tremendous opportunity afforded to us."