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Android Applications Soon To Run On MIPS32 Chips 93

Posted by timothy
from the enhance-enhance-enhance dept.
OrangHutan writes "Google's Android software source code has been offered up for those looking to create applications on MIPS32 chips, which are different from Intel's x86 architecture and used by companies such as Cisco (in its Linksys devices), Motorola (set-top boxes) and Sony (DVD players). MIPS Technologies made the announcement on Monday and is giving 'software developers an early access program for customers, which will give them access to MIPS engineers and specific hardware and software optimizations.' The article goes on to say that MIPS made waves at the 'Computex electronics exhibition in Taipei by showing off a home media player and a 10.4-inch LCD with a built-in computer both running Android. They were among the first non-phones to be seen running the Google-developed OS.'"
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Android Applications Soon To Run On MIPS32 Chips

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  • Before I could run Android on all my old SGI boxes that are collecting dust?
  • MIPS32 is different than x86? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME!!@!@!>!@!!!!1!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SpinyNorman (33776)

      I guess the slashdot editors are just acknowledging the new slashdot demographic.

      Of course it's have been better if they'd also noted that MIPS != ARM since ARM is what Android actually runs on.

    • We had a meeting about it,
      Didn't you get the memo?
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      "Google's Android software source code has been offered up for those looking to create applications on MIPS32 chips, which are different from Intel's x86 "

      As if this has anything to do with anything. Android never ran on x86. Who cares...

    • I understand your pain... The x86 empire will always encounter a few rebel architectures. Luckily, there are new powerful weapons like the Atom-izer, and research on the Larrabee GPU (lots of simple x86s).

      Most x86 CPUs emulate x86 code to keep the legacy alive... Long live the early 70's Datapoint/Intel 8008 instruction set!

  • PSP is MIPS (Score:3, Informative)

    by sjf (3790) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @09:31AM (#28939995)

    Hmm. Interesting

    • The Sony PSP firmware uses digital signatures to reject unapproved applications, including all applications developed by students and hobbyists. Jailbreaks are fragile, often not working on the new firmware version installed on a new retail system or the new firmware version installed by a game. How would Android help?
      • You're missing the point. If you install Android on it, you are effectively making it not a PSP gaming system anymore. You would not be able to play the games on it. You could however use all the hardware for Android based games, and do whatever it is that Android does. Installing custom firmware is not as delicate a process as you seem to think either, I've been using it since 2.52 with no problems at all. I also do not think that it would be all that hard to do this either, there are several PSP firm
        • by tepples (727027)

          Installing custom firmware is not as delicate a process as you seem to think either, I've been using it since 2.52 with no problems at all.

          If you buy a PSP new in box today, you have to wait an indefinite amount of time for an effective jailbreak to appear so that you can install custom firmware. And even then, you could go to jail if you don't have the money to emigrate from the United States before you start modding PSPs; see this submission [slashdot.org].

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            Intent matters here. "A Southern California college student has been arrested on federal charges that he illegally modified video game consoles to enable the machines to play pirated video games."

            This is different from saying "A Southern California college student has been arrested on federal charges that he illegally modified video game consoles"
            • by tepples (727027)

              Intent matters here.

              Please read my comment to the submission [slashdot.org]. There aren't enough details to discern the definition of "pirated" that the article is using.

              • by 91degrees (207121)
                Perhaps. Personally I think it's quite plausible that he just wanted to play homebrew games, but there's at least reason to believe that that piracy was his motivation. And we don't know what he actually did because the article is so short on details. It's quite likely that he was offering a service to modify a large number of consoles, and explicitly stating that this was to allow them to run pirate games.

                It just doesn't seem compelling enough to convince me that I'd be busted for installing Android
      • by Nursie (632944)

        What?

        The jailbreaks on the first model and the "Thin 'n' Light" (PSP2000?) are rock solid and bust wide open, using the built in service mode. Hell, the one I have can even reboot to stock firmware so that downloaded content can work.

        Now, android might not help, but getting android on to the PS might well be possible. What the point would be is another question I'd ask.

        • by tepples (727027)

          The jailbreaks on the [PSP-1000 and PSP-2000 series] are rock solid and bust wide open, using the built in service mode.

          Those models are no longer manufactured.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Why was this modded redundant? This should be Interesting, if nothing else. A nice screen, wifi, removable storage, hardware accelerated media playback..

    • by bhima (46039) *

      And the PSP has been out for quite some time... is that the most recent consumer device to use a MIPS32? Or are there devices which could compete with the upcoming ARM based devices?

  • Surfing the web with my toaster is all the closer! Can't wait til the microwave gets a virus and starts spamming government sites. Soon the meat compartment in my fridge will hold spam and will spam me with ads that it thinks I'll want... The future's so bright...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a regular slashdot reader and geek I otherwise really wouldn't know what MIPS32 means. Maybe I should post another how-do-I-do-my-job question for `ask slashdot'? I'll fit right in!

    • by RedK (112790)
      Instead of expecting the answer in the summary or article, you could, you know, look it up. That's if you have access to the Internet or something, I hear there's lots of information on that network.
  • Why MIPS Matters (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:45AM (#28940987) Journal
    MIPS used to be the architecture that companies like SGI used for their high-end workstations. It was also briefly used in a few handheld systems. A few years ago, however, the Chinese government decided that they didn't want to have their information infrastructure relying on foreign-designed and (often) foreign-manufactured CPUs. They created the Longsoon project to design a home-grown CPU. The ISA that they chose to implement is MIPS (little-endian variant). The latest versions are full MIPS64 implementations and are reasonably low power (think Atom, not ARM). They are also very, very, cheap. Laptops containing them are on the market now and are much cheaper than their Atom equivalents. The next version, due in the next few months, is expected to draw 10W for four 1.2GHz cores.

    The 2F, which is currently the version shipping in cheap laptops, is fabbed on a very old process technology (two generations behind the Atom) but still manages to give decent performance per Watt. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Chinese catch up with the fabrication technology and how they improve the design in the next few years. It's also worth noting that the 3 series has a load of extra instructions that make it easy to emulate x86 and the published benchmarks show x86 code running in QEMU on the pre-release chips runs at around 70% of the speed of native MIPS code. Even if it's only 50%, that's probably enough for a lot of legacy apps.

    • [citation needed]

      Not because I don't believe you or think you're wrong, but because I haven't seen anything of the sort reported and I'm actually curious. I've only read about MIPS laptop and it wasn't much differently priced from its x86 brethren.

      • Re:Why MIPS Matters (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:54AM (#28942301) Journal
        Which bit do you want a citation for? The wikipedia page on Loongson [wikipedia.org] contains a lot of relevant citations at the bottom - and would have been your first hit if you'd bothered to Google. The people who I know who have bought them paid under 200 Euros, which is a fair bit less than the cheapest x86 laptops I've seen.
        • Ahhh, my apologies. Yeah, I know about the Loongson. What I was wondering is where you can buy these Atom-comparable Loongson laptops. Glancing at the bottom of the Wiki page you linked to, only two companies have claimed to sell these (outside of China). One turned out to be a scam, and the other is the one I'd heard of which doesn't appear to actually be selling anything yet (and when it does is estimated at almost 400 Euros). So where are you seeing them?

          • I'm not seeing them, but people working on an open source project I contribute to are buying them in Germany and sending me MIPS-related bug reports.
        • by josath (460165)
          The original eeepc netbook (x86) was $250 at launch two years ago, so I wouldn't say 200 euros (almost $300 USD) is a fair bit less. I've seen one or two of those MIPS netbooks online, and they were very cheap, however they seem pretty under-powered compared to the currently available x86 netbooks. Something like 20% less cost but 50% less performance/ram/storage.
    • by kriston (7886)

      MIPS32 was not "briefly" used for handheld devices. Not everything is ARM, you know.

      • Can you name ten handheld devices that are currently shipping with MIPS processors? I can easily list a few that were discontinued 5+ years ago, but apart from the new Longsoon I'd be hard-pressed to name any apart from the PSP that ship now. In contrast, I could easily name dozens of ARM-based handhelds.

        There was a time when any reasonable handheld would have a SuperH, ARM or MIPS chip but now the vast majority have ARM, although Longsoon may well change this in a year or so. I haven't seen a SuperH de

  • Hopefully, since Android uses a java-like VM scheme, application would "just work" independently of the underlying hardware.
    • you still have to port the VM and its subsystems. Just working is a bit over optimistic in my personal experience of switch architectures. Some one had to put in a fair bit of effort to make it happen.

      • by ivoras (455934)
        Yeah but it would be kind of lame to claim to "port Android" and then not port the VM :)
    • by Tom Rini (680)

      Android apps are Java, and allow for JNI. So the answer is that yes, non-JNI using apps work just fine. In the future, JNI using apps could work so long as native libraries are provided for all hardware architectures that are supported (today there's a hardcoded armeabi reference in the loader).

  • This was done out of necessity. There are thousands of new devices coming out of Asia that are MIPS32 and tens of thousands already available. Not only are they handheld phones, smartbooks, netbooks, notebooks, and there are game systems like the Dingoo A320.

    There are even desktop home computers. In China, the intention is that the indiginouos Loongson CPU, also known as Godson or Dragon CPU, would supplant Intel/Microsoft systems in China. Loongson is a MIPS32 chip.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)

      Loongson is a MIPS32 chip

      Only the old ones. The new ones (Loongson 2, 500MHz+) are all MIPS64.

      • by kriston (7886)

        Yes I left that out, sorry.
        The multicore high-speed chips are going to be a sea-change for computing in Asia.

  • I'm growing tired of hearing about android when they only have one phone available in the US. how about no more android news until they release a new phone. deal? ok thanks
    • by mgblst (80109)

      Seriously, just skip the story. I am not interested in the Wii, I could click on every story and tell everyone, or I could do what a non-fuckhead would do and skip the story.

      • by sucati (611768)
        hey fuckface, thanks for responding. actually I'm quite interested in Android, yet frustrated in the lack of phones.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      I'm growing tired of hearing about android when they only have one phone available in the US.

      US != the world.

      Kindly get over yourself.

      The UK has three (HTC Magic, HTC Dream, Samsung I7500), Europe has 2 (HTC Dream, HTC Magic) and Australia has two (HTC Dream, HTC Magic) with the HTC Hero being introduced this month.

      • by sucati (611768)
        yes, I'm quite aware of your bountiful phone selection. strangely your british phones don't do anything for me. you get android phones first, we get cars for about half the cost. I guess it all evens out in the end.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mjwx (966435)

          yes, I'm quite aware of your bountiful phone selection. strangely your british phones don't do anything for me. you get android phones first, we get cars for about half the cost. I guess it all evens out in the end.

          Thats OK, you can have slightly cheaper motor vehicles, we'd rather have a healthy banking system and stable economy.

          Also I'm Australian you drongo, we haven't had to bail out a single company.

    • I'm growing tired of hearing about android when they only have one phone available in the US. how about no more android news until they release a new phone. deal? ok thanks

      FAIL [androidcommunity.com]

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