Thirty years ago, a team of Stanford University researchers and Silicon Valley veterans from IBM and Motorola came together to design a CPU architecture that would forever change the landscape of computing. In January of 1986, MIPS Computer Systems introduced the R2000 CPU, a 32-bit design containing about 110,000 transistors that competed with Motorola 68000 and Intel 80386 microprocessors.
Since then, MIPS CPUs have powered billions of the world’s most iconic or exciting consumer products: the original Sony PlayStation and Nintendo N64 game consoles, home routers, IoT devices, set-top boxes and digital TVs, personal computers and workstations. Today 32- and 64-bit MIPS CPUs can be found inside chips for self-driving cars (Mobileye), wearables (Ingenic, Ineda), IoT devices (MediaTek, Qualcomm, Microchip, Samsung ARTIK), maker dev boards (Creator Ci40), enterprise networking (Cavium, Broadcom) – and even the NASA New Horizons space probe.
This is the story of MIPS, the revolutionary microprocessor architecture that started the low-power computing revolution of today: