Chromebooks Powered By The MIPS Pistachio, Linux Support Evolving

Written by Michael Larabel in Coreboot on 21 March 2015 at 11:18 AM EDT. 10 Comments
While Google Chromebooks up to this point have tended to be ARM-based along with some using low-power Atom x86 SoCs, it appears Imagination Technologies is working towards some MIPS design wins for these Internet-focused devices. Imagination has been working on MIPS improvements within Coreboot as a ChromeOS partner.

Ionela Voinescu of Imagination Technologies, which is the current owner of MIPS, landed some improvements for this alternative CPU architecture into Coreboot over night.

Among the work was MIPS architecture support for libpayload and MIPS CPU SoC frequency support. Both commits mention a private Chrome OS partner bug and that they were tested on the Pistachio SoC.

The Imagionation Technologies Pistachio SoC is one of the company's new designs and in the past few months they've been enabling the support within the mainline Linux kernel. The Linux 4.0 kernel already brings support for some of the SoC components like MMC, SPI, I2C, DMA, watchdog timer, IR, PWM, etc, while more patches are outstanding for landing into Linux 4.1 or later. While Imagination Tech may not yield good memories for many longtime open-source/Linux users, it seems with the Pistachio SoC they're working to get the support into good standing within mainline quite on time.

The IMG Pistachio SoC is based on a dual-core MIPS interAptiv processor. Beyond the Coreboot references, there's also some MIPS Pistachio references within Chromium bug reports. Some of the Linux kernel patches enabling Pistachio support were also authored and copyrighted by Google. This month at Mobile World Congress there were some devices on display using Altair LTE devices with MIPS CPUs.

It will be interesting to see what comes about of the MIPS/IMG Pistachio SoC under Linux. For those looking for a low-cost MIPS Linux experience right now, there is the new MIPS development board for hobbyists and developers.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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