It can be hard to find ways to build differentiation into an MCU or embedded controller. Now there is a way to save cost and power in your design, while enabling your customers to create truly differentiated products.

The technology is hardware virtualization, and it’s available now in the MIPS M-class M5100/M5150 CPUs. With these MIPS CPUs, you can:

  • Save costs by safely and securely replacing multiple CPU cores with a single core – a clear benefit for applications including smart lighting and control, electricity meters and more
  • Save power where multiple cores are required – ideal for secure connected processors, connected IoT devices and wearables
  • Dynamically allocate CPU bandwidth per application

Importantly, with hardware virtualization, you can build a controller that can run multiple, unmodified, isolated applications independently and securely at the same time on a single, trusted platform. Your customers can use this feature to provide a secure path to deliver updates/downloads, and benefit from enhanced IP protection.

A system built with M5100/M5150 CPUs – the only embedded class CPUs with hardware virtualization technology that lets you build multiple isolated environments – enables your customers to:

  • Keep user data separate from the application data to ensure security against external, malicious hacks
  • Isolate “factory software” from the OS, comms and user application software for better internal security/data privacy
  • Enable secure “live” updates of system software in the field; ensuring critical sensor calibration updates, even when the product is in operation
  • Keep certified software away from user edits

Meet the MIPS M51xx CPUs

The MIPS M-class M5100/M5150 CPU cores with integrated DSP and FPU engines deliver leading performance efficiency and a unique feature set for MCU and embedded markets including M2M, IoT and embedded control applications. MIPS M-class CPUs deliver 2x higher DSP performance and higher overall performance/MHz versus the competition – with a free, industry-standard GCC compiler.

MIPS M5100

The M5100 includes features supporting real-time operation and tightly coupled memory to handle MCU application-specific requirements. It is designed for use in lower-cost, low-power embedded systems where optimized performance efficiency is a key requirement.

MIPS M5150

The M5150 features a high performance L1 cache controller and virtual memory management unit, designed to power high-performance embedded systems that can execute operating systems with virtual memory support such as Linux.

Why choose M5100 and M5150?

  • A powerful DSP engine provides high performance, single cycle throughput DSP and SIMD capabilities to address the requirements of such applications as industrial/motor control, voice processing and more.
  • These IP cores deliver 2x higher DSP performance and higher overall performance/MHz versus the competition using a free, industry-standard GCC compiler – achieving leading 3.56 CoreMark/MHz and 1.7 DMIPS/MHz performance.

    MIPS M-class vs the competition

  • The M5100/M5150 CPUs are OmniShield ready, they are the only embedded class CPUs with hardware virtualization technology. This means you can build a design with multiple secure domains where each application or OS can run independently and reliably in its own separate, trusted environment. You can use this feature to develop systems that provide a secure path to deliver updates/downloads, and benefit from enhanced IP protection.

    MIPS M51xx Virtualization
    Hardware virtualization enables multiple guests to execute in their own secure containers under control of a hypervisor that runs on an M51xx platform.

  • Anti-tamper features provide an additional layer of security against potential external attacks including a secure debug feature that prevents external debug probes from accessing the core internals so an application’s code stays safe and secure.
  • An optional IEEE 754 floating point unit (FPU) provides high-performance support of both single and double precision instructions for accelerated real-time control in industrial, automotive and digital consumer applications. Double precision support not only leads to greater accuracy but also provides an advantage in running a wide range of today’s software algorithms.
  • The microMIPS instruction set architecture provides up to 30% code compression for applications where memory size is critical. This ISA improves code density while maintaining a performance equivalent to MIPS32 mode.
  • Hardware/software development tools developed and maintained by Imagination for MIPS include the Codescape SDK, a complete suite of tuned tools and libraries, debuggers for developing and debugging software on MIPS CPUs.
  • A broad ecosystem of partner tools and software includes popular compilers, RTOS, debuggers, simulators and development boards, as well as hypervisors to take advantage of the powerful virtualization capability.
  • You can run Linux class operating systems on the M5150, which has required features such as a Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) MMU that are unique among other MCU-class CPUs. While supporting Linux, other unique features enable the M5150 to maintain the real-time/low latency characteristics needed to run an RTOS on the same system.
  • MIPS M-class CPUs are highly configurable and expandable, enabling multiple optimized applications on a single IP core.

Virtualization in action


Who else is using MIPS M-class?

Microchip has based the PIC32 microcontroller family on MIPS M-class cores, and numerous other leading semiconductor companies in a wide range of markets have also chosen this class of CPU from MIPS for their designs. To learn more about how other companies are using the newest MIPS M-class CPUs, follow these links:

Getting started with MIPS M-class CPUs

Getting started with MIPS M-class CPUs is quick and easy with a range of development platforms:



Open Virtual Platforms Fast Processor Models for MIPS M5150

Learn more

Need more information? Click on any of the links below to quickly register to join the MIPS community and access the materials:

  Please Register or login to download OmniShield White Paper – Critical Security for Connected Systems-on-Chip Design. [more info]
  Please Register or login to download A hypervisor approach with real-time support to the MIPS M5150 processor.
  Please Register or login to download A hypervisor approach with real-time support to the MIPS M5150 processor (Presentation).
  Please Register or login to download A Virtualization Approach for MIPS-based MPSoCs.
  Please Register or login to download Hardware-assisted virtualization targeting MIPS-based SoCs.
  Please Register or login to download Hellfire Hypervisor Project.

Technical Documentation