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First open source MIPS code is released

Apr 5, 2019 — by Eric Brown 2,336 views

Wave Computing has released its first open source MIPS ISA without license fees or royalties. The MIPS Open release includes the latest R6 version of the MIPS 32-and-64-bit ISA plus an IDE for embedded Linux and RTOSes and support for the free MIPSfpga core.

As promised in December when Wave Computing made the surprising announcement that it was open sourcing its MIPS architecture with a MIPS Open Initiative, the company offered its first MIPS Open Release. The initial release includes the latest R6 (Release 6) versions of its 32- and 64-bit MIPS ISAs, as well as extensions including virtualization, multi-threading, SIMD, DSP and microMIPS compression.

There is also an IDE for embedded Linux and RTOS development, as well as an open source FPGA stack that was not mentioned in the December announcement. This appears to relate to the free, academia-targeted MIPSfpga RTL for microAptiv cores that was released several years ago by Imagination Technologies before it sold the MIPS architecture to Wave Computing.


As with the RISC-V ISA that the MIPS Open program appears to emulate, the code is available without licensing or royalty fees. In addition, participants will be protected under MIPS’ existing worldwide patents that cover some 8.5 billion MIPS-based chips that have shipped in thousands of commercial designs.

Specific components of the first MIPS Open program release include:

  • MIPS ISA — A downloadable copy of the latest R6 version of the MIPS 32-and-64-bit architecture, including extensions such as virtualization, multi-threading, SIMD, DSP, and microMIPS code compression
  • MIPS Open Tools — Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Linux-based and real-time operating systems (RTOSes) for embedded products, enabling developers to build, debug and deploy applications on MIPS-based hardware and software
  • MIPS Open Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) — Training program for community members with a Getting Started package (Verilog files and instructions), 25 hands-on labs, and step-by-step directions on how to build a system-on-chip based on the MIPS Open FPGA using an open source Linux OS. You also get sample RTL Code for the MIPS microAptiv core.

Additional open source releases are in the works, says Wave Computing. These include the release of the commercial RTL code for the MIPS microAptiv cores and new IDE features. Wave also plans to host a series of MIPS Open Developer Days.

“Offering a broad set of silicon-proven features such as DSP and virtualization extensions, the MIPS Open ISA is more complete than other open hardware initiatives,” stated Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group. “The MIPS Open program also provides a greater degree of patent protection and a certification process that helps prevent ISA fragmentation, which is important for the sustainability of the architecture. These factors give MIPS Open an advantage for commercial implementations, particularly for customer-programmable cores.”

Further information

The initial MIPS Open releases are available now for free download. More information is available in the MIPS Open release announcement and at the MIPS Open website.

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