MIPS porting Google's Android 3.0 OS for its processors

The Honeycomb port could bring more MIPS-based tablets to market

MIPS Technologies on Tuesday said it was porting Google's Android 3.0 operating system, code-named Honeycomb, to work with its microprocessors.

The port could lead to the faster release of Honeycomb tablets running on MIPS processors, said Art Swift, vice president of marketing and business development at MIPS. Customers asked for Honeycomb support, and porting the OS could speed up tablet development, Swift said.

Honeycomb is already working on MIPS processors internally, but further optimization is needed, Swift said. He couldn't comment on when the port would be complete, but said it took 60 to 90 days to finish porting earlier versions of Android.

MIPS processors are being used in a few tablets such as Cruz from Velocity Micro. Older versions of Android have already been ported to work with MIPS processors.

Because Google hasn't yet open sourced Honeycomb, MIPS signed a licensing deal with Google for the operating system.

Porting Honeycomb could be a big step forward for MIPS as it tries to establish a beachhead in the smartphone and tablet markets, which are dominated by ARM. Honeycomb already works on ARM-based tablets, and has been ported to work with Intel's x86 chips.

MIPS, like ARM, licenses processor designs to chip and device makers. MIPS has a strong presence in markets such as networking and wireless communications, and the company's processors are also used in television sets, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.

MIPS processors include the MIPS32 1074K family of application processors, which the company is pushing into mobile devices. The 1074K is scalable up to 1.5GHz and is capable of multithreading. The company earlier this month announced it was developing 64-bit processor cores, code-named Prodigy, as it tries to raise the performance of its processors.

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