MIPS for Self-Driving Cars with the I6500-F CPU

Imagine MIPS cores in robot cars…

Yesterday Imagination Technologies announced the availability of a new CPU IP that implements the MIPS instruction set dubbed the I6500-F. This IP aimed at chip designers working on solutions for autonomous systems like self-driving cars. To that end Imagination was quick to highlight the first customer for its I6500-F CPU IP: Mobileye. Built on a 7nm FinFET process the I6500-F CPU IP will be at the core of Mobileye’s next-generation EyeQ5 system-on-chip aimed at self-driving applications.

For readers that are unfamiliar with the automotive market, Mobileye is a major chip and software supplier for the current generation of driver assistance technology. Mobileye’s notable customers include BMW, GM, Volvo, and Tesla Motors. In August of 2015 Tesla began integrating Mobileye’s driver assistance technology using the EyeQ3 SoC on its Model S sedans. In July of 2016 Tesla and Mobileye announced the end of their partnership as Tesla spun up its own autonomous driving group and poached high-profile chip designers like Jim Keller from AMD. In March of this year Intel announced that it had made an offer to acquire Mobileye for $15.3 billion. It appears that Intel’s acquisition has yet to impact Mobileye’s long-term plans as the company doesn’t plan on launching its MIPS I6500-F based EyeQ5 SoC until 2020.

But what exactly has Imagination done to win customers with its MIPS line of CPU IPs? In the case of the I6500-F IP the company has been aggressive in designing something that is modern, scalable, and above all else safe. Unlike existing CPU IPs the I6500-F has been designed and validated to comply with the ISO 26262 and IEC 61508 functional safety standards. Customers will have full access to a third-party safety analysis of the I6500-F CPU IP and a safety consultancy support package to help them demonstrate ISO 26262 compliance with their SoCs.

In terms of modernity the I6500-F is a 64-bit CPU with support for hardware virtualization, heterogeneous compute, and simultaneous multi-threading. Depending on the required implantation the I6500-F is designed to scale from embedded to cloud applications. Practically this means this CPU IP can be configured into multicore clusters or heterogenous clusters. Imagination has also designed the I6500-F to make extensive use of redundancy throughout the IP with the duplication of critical registers, embedded memories for fault detection, and a coherence manager for use in multicore clusters.

While the I6500-F is Imagination’s first foray into functional safety focused CPU IP the company is making it clear that it won’t be the last. Future offerings in this processor IP category will fall under a new brand that Imagination calls MIPS FortifiAI CPUs. While Mobileye is the first customer for Imagination’s I6500-F CPU IP, given the intensity of the competition in this space, it’s unlikely that it will be the last.S|A

The following two tabs change content below.
Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.