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Android demo’d on MIPS-driven 1080p display

Aug 27, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

MIPS Technologies announced two more video-oriented system-on-chip vendor partners who will use its MIPS-architecture Android implementation, developed by Embedded Alley. Sigma Designs is demonstrating an Android- and MIPS-based set-top box (STB) prototype displaying 1080p video, and ALi Corp. announced it is also joining MIPS' Android partner program.

Announced in April, the MIPS implementation of the Google-sponsored, open source Android stack was completed by Embedded Alley (EA) in early June, in collaboration with MIPS. The port is intended to extend Android beyond smartphones, as well as the growing list of Android netbooks and MIDs.

In June, MIPS announced that it would release the source code by August, and suggested that Sigma Designs was a new partner. MIPS shipped the code, as promised, in early August.

The Sigma Designs Android demo was to be held today at the DigiTimes Tech Forum Multimedia Day in Taipei, Taiwan, according to MIPS. Demonstration of an Android-based STB prototype displaying 1080p video "is a major milestone toward the creation of a reference platform" for an Android-based STB," the company says.

Enhancements to Android

Sigma and MIPS made enhancements to Android libraries and the MIPS architecture to enable Android to run on full-sized HD screens rather than a mobile handset display, says MIPS. In addition, Sigma Designs is said to be have extended libraries within Android to support hardware graphics acceleration and decoding to take advantage of its SoC capabilities for HD. Meanwhile, MIPS itself is making performance optimizations for the MIPS32 architecture for Android that it plans to release "in the future as part of the publicly available Android on MIPS code."

MIPS did not mention which Sigma Designs processor was involved in the demo. However, Sigma's MIPS-based SMP8640 series SoCs are used in STBs, Blu-ray players, and other video-ready devices. The company noted it plans to use Android on DTVs, STBs, and Blu-ray players.

ALi joins MIPS' Android initiative

MIPS also announced that Taiwan-based ALi Corp. has joined its Early Access Program for Android on MIPS this week. The program provides key strategic customers and partners early access to Android on MIPS hardware and code optimizations and enhancements, says MIPS.

Once again, the company did not mention a specific platform that would support Android on MIPS. However, ALi offers a number of SoCs targeting digital home and portable entertainment, including its M3x line of STB-oriented SoCs. Other ALi-supported markets are said to include digital A/V devices, portable media players (PMPs), high-speed imaging, storage, and multimedia peripheral products.

Android on MIPS spreads out

The Android port was initially targeted at the RMI (Raza Microelectronics) Alchemy-family Au1250 SoC, which is built around a MIPS core. Additional MIPS processors targeting consumer electronics, and set-top boxes (STBs) are offered by vendors including Broadcom, which has yet to join the effort. According to MIPs Technologies, whose processor platform is especially strong in home consumer electronics and Blu-ray players, the Android/MIPs platform should be a strong fit for DTVs, mobile internet devices (MIDs), digital picture frames (DPFs), and STBs.

In early June, MIPS also announced it had joined the Open Embedded Software Foundation (OESF), an organization devoted to standardizing and developing Android platforms for embedded devices beyond mobile handsets. Established in February, the OESF — which has already sponsored Android ports to the Sharp Zaurus — is an industry group made up primarily of technology companies aiming to use Android in a range of devices with embedded wireless capability.

Possible devices are said to include STBs, VoIP phones, karaoke machines, security and monitoring systems, and DPFs. OESF founding members include ARM, KDDI, Japan Cable Laboratories, Alpine Electronics, and Fujitsu Software.

In late July, MIPS' co-developer for the Android on MIPS port, Embedded Alley (EA), was acquired by RTOS and ESD software firm Mentor Graphics (see farther below). Mentor Graphics said it plans to continue to work with MIPS on the Android technology, and that it would add EA's Development System for Android to its "ESD product offering."

As a result, device OEMs will be able to deploy Android or Linux on Freescale's PowerPC-based PowerQUICC III and newer, QorIQ multi-core networking processors, says Mentor. Presumably, this would bring to market a PowerPC Android port EA had already been working on.

Stated Ken Lowe, VP of strategic marketing, Sigma Designs, "After showing a Blu-ray reference design for Android in June, we are pleased to now show full HD video on a MIPS-based platform from Sigma — a platform that was selected as an official Android reference port for the OESF STB working group."

Stated Daniel Huang, CTO, ALi Corp., "We are investing in Android for our MIPS-based silicon platforms because we see its incredible potential to bring a new level of connectivity and a broad range of applications to our customers' next generation consumer electronics products."

Stated Art Swift, VP of marketing at MIPS Technologies, "Since we announced public availability of the Android on MIPS source code earlier this month, over 600 people have registered to access the code. Together with our ecosystem partners, silicon partners and Early Access Customers, we are making incredible progress in driving Android into devices beyond the mobile handset."


MIPS did not mention when the Sigma Designs-based Android STB design or ALi Corp. Android on MIPS design might reach market. More information on the MIPS Android technology may be found here.

More information on Sigma Designs may be found at their website, here, and more on ALi Corp. may be found here.

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