27th April 2015

Imagination Revolutionizes CPU Architecture Education with Free and Open Access to a Modern MIPS CPU

New MIPSfpga program lets universities study MIPS RTL code and explore a real MIPS CPU

LONDON, UK – 27 April, 2015 – Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) announces
a revolutionary new offering as part of its Imagination University Programme (IUP)
called MIPSfpga. Through MIPSfpga, Imagination is transforming CPU architecture
education in universities around the globe by offering them free and open access
to a fully-validated, current generation MIPS CPU in a complete teaching

CPU architecture is generally taught as part of
electronic engineering, computer science and computer engineering courses, and
is based on MIPS or one of the other two major CPU architectures. Until now, what’s
been missing from all of these courses is access to real, un-obfuscated RTL
code that will enable professors and students to study and explore a real CPU. Imagination
is changing that with MIPSfpga, bringing a new CPU architecture education
paradigm to universities around the world.

The MIPS architecture was originally developed at
Stanford University in the early 1980s. It has been the teaching architecture
of choice for decades because of its elegant true RISC design, epitomized by
Dr. David A. Patterson and Dr. John L. Hennessy in their book, ‘Computer Organization and Design’, now
in its fifth edition.

Through MIPSfpga, Imagination is providing
universities with a simplified version of its popular MIPS microAptiv CPU core which
has been configured by an academic specifically for academic use. Many
academics are already familiar with the microAptiv CPU, and it already has a broad
ecosystem of support based on its use in numerous commercial products including
the PIC32MZ microcontroller (MCU) from Microchip Technology.

The MIPS CPU is being offered as part of a complete
free-to-download package for universities, together with a Getting Started Guide,
teaching guide for professors, and examples designed to enable students to see
how the CPU works and explore its capabilities. With the materials, students can
develop a CPU and take it through debug, running on an FPGA platform.

The MIPSfpga deliverables were developed by Dr. David
Harris and Dr. Sarah Harris, professors who co-wrote the popular book, ‘Digital Design and Computer Architecture’,
now in its second edition. Dr. David Harris configured the MIPS CPU at the
heart of MIPSfpga, and Dr. Sarah Harris developed the teaching materials.

This MIPS CPU configuration is designed to run on a
low-cost FPGA platform, with guides available for the Digilent
Nexys4 platform with a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA
, and the
DE2 platform with an Altera Cyclone FPGA.

MIPSfpga is already running in several academic
institutions including Harvey Mudd College, Imperial College London, University
College London (UCL), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).


The MIPSfpga CPU and related materials
are available for download from the Imagination University Programme website
now for first phase users via an application process. Academics should visit https://community.imgtec.com/university to register for the IUP and learn more.

Phase two, starting in June, will
require only a simple click-through agreement. Additional teaching materials
are being developed and will be made available later this year.


Imagination is working with Xilinx through its
University Program to roll out MIPSfpga to universities worldwide. The
companies are co-sponsoring workshops to enable professors to get started, with
the first workshops being held at Harvey Mudd University on May 13-14, 2015.
For more info on these workshops, visit www.imgtec.com/MIPSfpga.


we’re doing through MIPSfpga is something that hasn’t been done before with a
major CPU architecture. We’ve been working on this program for about a year as
part of our focus revitalizing MIPS under Imagination. During that time, we
have found great support for the program, and great love for MIPS – it is the
preferred architecture for teaching. MIPS started off inside of a leading
university, kicking off the RISC revolution, and now we’re delighted to bring
MIPS back home to the academic community, many of whom have already been using
MIPS for many years.”

King-Smith, EVP Marketing,


been more than 30 years since we created the MIPS architecture at Stanford
University. I am pleased to see MIPS rejuvenated under Imagination’s care, and
to see Imagination rolling out this exciting new program that brings MIPS back
to academia in a big way. With its pure RISC architecture based on efficiency
and simple extensible design principles, MIPS is an ideal architecture for
teaching and studying CPU design. Professors and students alike can benefit
from the ability to study MIPS RTL code and explore a real MIPS CPU.”

Dr. John L. Hennessy, Office of the President,
Stanford University
(Co-Founder, MIPS Computer Systems, 1984)

believe that MIPSfpga is the most significant contribution to teaching
microprocessors that I have facilitated in my 21 years of creating support
packages for academia. The enthusiasm of educators to encourage this project
has been a wonderful motivator.”

Robert Owen, Manager: Worldwide University


significance of MIPSfpga for teaching computer architecture can’t be
overstated. It makes so much more sense to teach a CPU architecture using a
commercially available, modern core that is out there in silicon. With
MIPSfpga, if students want to look inside to see how the CPU works, or if they
want to modify it, they can do it. Teachers have always wanted this access, and
I am personally delighted to be a part of making this program widely available
to universities around the globe.”

Dr. David Money Harris, Harvey S. Mudd Professor
of Engineering Design,

Harvey Mudd College

am delighted to have been involved in making the MIPSfpga program a reality.
The use of this industrial-strength MIPS core is an excellent complement to
courses ranging from digital logic design and computer architecture to embedded
systems and system-on-chip design. We created the teaching materials in a
similar manner in which we created the popular ‘Digital Design and Computer
textbook, to provide an approachable way to use, experiment
with, and learn from the commercial MIPS core. With MIPSfpga, Imagination is
providing academia with both practical and insightful teaching tools.”

Dr. Sarah Harris,
Associate Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

“We are
pleased to have been among the very first users of MIPSfpga. The exciting thing
for us is the ability for students to modify and experiment with every aspect
of the computer architecture. We have already had two students carrying out
projects on the beta MIPSfpga with further students lined up for the coming
academic year”

Dr. Philip Watts, EPSRC Research Fellow and
Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London

“We are
pleased to work with Imagination on MIPSfpga as it brings this exciting program
to Japan. We plan to host Japan’s first MIPSfpga training workshops at Keio
University, and we are exploring how we can create a comprehensive program
around the materials.”

Hideharu Amano, Ph.D, Professor, Dept. of Information and Computer Science, Keio University

MIPSfpga project will be very attractive for our undergraduates in our
Microelectronics program as well as graduates in the areas of computer
architecture and integrated circuit design, especially for those who take our
graduate course on advanced computer architecture, and undergraduate course on
computer organization and embedded systems. In this course, we already teach
MIPS, and are currently using simulation tools to execute the RTL description
of pipelines running the MIPS instruction set. It will be much more interesting
and educational for students to be able to run a MIPS CPU on an FPGA.”

Yongxin Zhu (Winson), Associate Professor, Senior
Member of IEEE and China Computer Federation, School of Microelectronics, Shanghai Jiao Tong

MIPSfpga approach is quite compatible with our courses at Tsinghua, where the MIPS
instruction set architecture is already a popular choice for both graduate and
undergraduate activities. We’re delighted to hear that Imagination will be
enabling students to experience real RTL, presenting a great new learning

Zhang Youhui, PhD., Professor, Department of
Computer Science, Tsinghua University

“Currently we are teaching computer architecture in
our MS course using the famous Patterson & Hennessy book. The availability
of a MIPS CPU would be a fantastic practical complement to the theory we teach,
and give students first-hand experience directly relevant to their future

Professor K. Subbarangaiah, Director, VEDA IIT (VLSI
Engineering and Design Automation)

About the
Imagination University Program

The Imagination University Program (IUP) is
designed to provide practical help to teachers around the world so that they
can use Imagination’s technologies in courses and student projects. The focus
is on providing the four vital elements needed to teach a course: a suitable
hardware platform at a reasonable price, free software development tools, effective
technical support, and excellent teaching materials that serve genuine teaching
needs. The IUP is open to all members of academia. For more information, visit https://community.imgtec.com/university.

About Imagination

Imagination is a global technology leader whose products touch the lives
of billions of people across the globe. The company’s broad range of silicon IP
(intellectual property) includes the key processing blocks needed to create the
SoCs (Systems on Chips) that power all mobile, consumer and embedded
electronics. Its unique software IP, infrastructure technologies and system
solutions enable its customers to get to market quickly with complete and
highly differentiated SoC platforms. Imagination’s licensees include many of
the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and
OEMs/ODMs who are creating some of the world’s most iconic products. See: www.imgtec.com.

Imagination on Twitter,
and Blog.

Technologies and the Imagination Technologies logo are trademarks of
Imagination Technologies Limited and/or its affiliated group companies in the
United Kingdom and/or other countries. All other logos, products, trademarks
and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Imagination Technologies’ Press Contacts:

UK: David Harold                    
david.harold@imgtec.com           +44 (0)1923 260 511

USA: Jen Bernier-Santarini     jen.bernier@imgtec.com             +1 408-530-5178

All Press Releases