MIPS Creates First Hot Spot Analyzer for Fast Linux Kernel Profiling

MIPS Technologies, Inc. (NasdaqGS: MIPS), a leading provider of industry-standard architectures, processors and analog IP for digital consumer, home networking, wireless, communications and business applications, announced a new software utility for its family of System Navigator(TM) EJTAG probes that enables fast, accurate profiling of the Linux kernel. With the Hot Spot Analyzer (HSA), software engineers can quickly identify program bottlenecks that are restricting system performance. The HSA builds on the unique Zero Overhead Program Counter (PC) Sampling feature built into the MIPS32® 24K®, MIPS32® 34K® and MIPS32® 74K(TM) core families.

“As with most issues in software debug, the problem is not fixing the bug but finding it,” said Rick Leatherman, vice president, MIPS Technologies. “Because the stock Linux kernel is very complex and configurable, knowing exactly how it interacts with various applications is a challenge. In just minutes, the HSA lets software engineers pinpoint performance issues that were nearly impossible to identify before. We are now offering the large number of software developers using Linux on MIPS cores an even greater opportunity to optimize system performance.”

Unlike most profiling tools that depend on the time-consuming approach of post-processing large trace buffers, require non-transparent instrumentation of the code, or use time-intrusive sampling based on an interrupt, the MIPS HSA runs without incurring any time overhead. The System Navigator EJTAG probe can sample the processor PC register at extremely high data rates without impacting the real-time operation of the processor, rapidly profiling large amounts of code. An intuitive user interface makes the process even faster and easier.

“We have been using MIPS’ profiling tools with the multi-threaded 34K cores in our system to determine where any performance bottlenecks might be,” said Tom Snodgrass, vice president of product development for PMC-Sierra’s Enterprise Storage Division. “The tools quickly identify bottlenecks, with no guesswork required. As a result, we’ve been able to significantly boost system performance.”

In addition to profiling the Linux kernel, the HSA also supports profiling of loadable modules. Most device drivers are built as loadable modules, and the associated code can be highly complex when the driver is controlling a sophisticated peripheral. The HSA lets developers see which functions are consuming the most execution time. The HSA can also be used to profile any code running in the kernel segment space of an embedded MIPS-Based(TM) system. This includes “bare iron” programs-those without a formal real-time operating system (RTOS) -or classic RTOS-based environments. Profiling can reveal hot-spots in the RTOS and how it is being used by the applications, showing the percentage of idle time remaining in a dynamic, interrupt-driven system.

MIPS Technologies’ Hot Spot Analyzer is available for immediate delivery. It is delivered as an Eclipse Plug-in and is also available with the Eclipse-based MIPS Navigator Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Processor Business Group
MIPS Technologies provides the number one processor architecture across a wide array of high-growth markets, including digital television, broadband access, WiFi, cable set-top boxes, DVD recorders, HD DVDs, and VoIP. The company offers the most comprehensive line of processor cores available for the embedded market-ranging from high-performance to low power products with unique efficiencies and cost advantages for next-generation SoC designs. MIPS Technologies licenses its intellectual property to leading semiconductor companies, ASIC developers and system OEMs. As an industry-standard architecture for more than two decades, MIPS Technologies provides the most extensive range of scalable microprocessors in standard, custom, semi-custom and application-specific products worldwide. The MIPS® Ecosystem provides a robust infrastructure of world-class standard tools, software suites and services to help ensure rapid, reliable, high-quality and cost-effective SoC development.

About MIPS Technologies
MIPS Technologies, Inc. (NasdaqGS: MIPS) is the world’s second largest semiconductor design IP company and the number one analog IP company worldwide. With more than 250 customers around the globe, MIPS Technologies powers some of the world’s most popular products for the digital consumer, broadband, wireless, networking and portable media markets-including broadband devices from Linksys, DTVs and entertainment systems from Sony, DVD recordable devices from Pioneer, digital set-top boxes from Motorola, network routers from Cisco, 32-bit microcontrollers from Microchip Technology and laser printers from Hewlett-Packard. Today, the company owns more than 400 patent properties (patents and applications) worldwide. Founded in 1998, MIPS Technologies is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices worldwide. For more information, contact (650) 567-5000.

MIPS, MIPS32, 24K, 34K, 74, MIPS-Based and System Navigator are trademarks or registered trademarks in the United States and other countries of MIPS Technologies, Inc.