MIPS: A Brief History
MIPS is a RISC-
MIPS arose out for Dr. John Hennssey’s work on computer architecture at Stanford
University in the early 1980s. At that time, there was a growing interest in so-
By the 1980s microprocessors were becoming increasingly complex and ad hoc with new
instructions tacked on to existing instruction sets year by year. Moreover, by the
John Hennessey joined other to launch MIPS Computer Systems to produce MIPS processors. However, this company, like ARM Holdings, was fabless and did not manufacture the chips themselves. Their first product, the MIPS R2000, was launched in 1985; their second generation processor, the R3000, in 1988.
Over the years, MIPS continued to develop with the MIPS I, MIPS II, MIPS III, MIPS
IV and MIPS V instruction set architectures. Today there are 32-
Silicon Graphics Inc., SGI, was a company set up to design and market high-
At its highpoint SCI was producing the workstations that virtually all top Hollywood movies used to develop their digital effects into the 1990s. However, SGI threw in their lot with Itanium which did not prove to be the anticipated success and in 2006 SGI announced that it was ceasing development of MIPS processors. In 2007 SGI turned to Intel’s Xeon processors. After about 2005 it was downhill all the way for SGI and the company was finally acquired by Rackable Systems in 2009.
MIPS technologies licenced their designs to other manufacturers and the processor became widely used in embedded systems. MIPS technologies became independent of SGI in 1998 and survived SGI’s demise.
In 2013, MIPS technologies were acquired by the British company, Imagination Technologies
Group plc. Imagination technologies are already selling PowerVR technology processors
in conjunction with NEC. PowerVR technology is dedicated hardware intended for high-
Features of the MIPS Family
R2000 First commercially available MIPS which also included multiply and divide units, although these required more than one cycle to perform an operation.
Unusually, MIPS supported both little-
There is no status/condition code register. Branches are made either as the result
of a specific operation or as the result of a test on a specific general-
The program counter is not user accessible like the ARM’s PC.
The R3000 series (1988) extended R2000 by adding memory management and cache facilities. The ISA itself was not extended.
The R4000 series introduced in 1991 extended the MIPS ISA to the MIPS64, a true 64-
The R8000 series, introduced in 1994, introduced MIPS to the bad boy of microarchitecture,
superscalar design. In 1995 the R8000 architecture was extended to include out-
Newer versions, the R10000, R12000, R14000, and R16000, have all extended the MIPS
by adding features such as larger cache and high-