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Prpl thrusts open-source to MIPS architecture

Posted: 26 May 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MIPS  open source  Amit Rohatgi  prpl  Imagination 

Amit Rohatgi wants to do what he achieved two years ago—bringing Google's Android to MIPS processors. This time though, he is doing it in a larger scale, integrating the open-source software into the MIPS architecture.

Rohatgi's latest effort is a consortium called prpl (pronounced purple). (The name was suggested by Rohatgi's wife, a graphics designer, and refers to the logo colour of Imagination Technologies, the company that bought MIPS in February 2013.) Its 10 founders include Broadcom, Cavium, Ikanos, Lantiq, PMC-Sierra, Qualcomm, and a handful of smaller companies that use or make MIPS-based chips.

The group aims to develop standard implementations of a wide range of open-source code for MIPS, ranging from OpenWRT for home gateways and routers to Linux distributions for datacenters and RTOSes for embedded systems.

Prpl will also work on secure operating systems and hypervisors and Java developers kits and components such as just-in-time compilers. Imagination will even contribute to the group its ARM-to-MIPS binary translation software as open-source code.

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"We will work on everything from the datacenter to the Internet of Things," said Rohatgi, in an interview at an annual Imagination event on the Stanford campus where MIPS was born.

"Every company does a lot of open-source work behind the firewall; prpl aims to move out the firewall."

Members contribute an unspecified amount of money and developer resources to create ports, interfaces, and other elements that will be contributed to open-source efforts. In this way, prpl is similar to Linaro, a consortium developing open-source code for ARM, but Rohatgi chafes at the comparison.

"Unlike Linaro, this is totally open, anyone can join" including backers of rival x86 and ARM processors, he said.

One early focus is creating a standard version of OpenWRT for MIPS-based home gateways and routers and fostering a developer community to build applications on top of it. The group hopes to host an OpenWRT developer's conference in the fall.

Java, 64bit Android, and more

Qualcomm's Atheros division is already using OpenWRT as the basis for the software on its WiFi routers, encouraging the development of third-party apps running on top of it. The promise of a more standard stack and a broader developer community is what drove Qualcomm to join prpl, said Dan Rabinovitsj, a senior vice president of the division.


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