Experimental Firefox OS Build Can Run On MIPS Hardware

Imagination Technology's Alexandru Voica recently said in a blog that an experimental version of the Firefox OS platform is now running on MIPS-based hardware.

Voica said that Mozilla's Gecko-based operating system is currently running on a MIPS-based 9.7-inch reference tablet that can play host to Mozilla's platform or Android 4.4 "KitKat." The device consists of a dual-core Ingenic JZ4780 processor and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, as well as Wireless N and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a camera on the front and back, two physical buttons, a mini-HDMI port and more.

Voica said that the reference tablet and the company's Creator CI20 board use the same Ingenic processor and are ideal for application development. However, these devices can also be used on a daily basis as computing solutions.

"Since Imagination designs the essential hardware IP that powers a wide range of platforms from premium smartphones to ultra-affordable tablets, we can help our partners better understand and anticipate consumer trends and thus strike the perfect balance between performance, features and price," Voica said.

So how long did it take to bring Firefox OS over to MIPS-based hardware? Voica told Tom's Hardware that porting the operating system was a straightforward task, and that the development time only took a few months. He said that they were already very familiar with the underlying technologies.

"Firefox OS is a neat operating system that we could easily show running on a MIPS CPU. A lot of the work on the graphics side was completed already since there are other PowerVR-based devices running Firefox OS in China," he told us. "There is nothing preventing us or our customers from porting any other Linux-based OS to the MIPS architecture."

He also said that the porting of Firefox OS is a "proof point" for how operating systems are getting more and more ISA-agnostic.

"This is a platform that developers can use to test out WebGL performance on mobile devices," he said. "Since this tablet shares the same chip with our Creator CI20 dev board, we encourage developers to try and port Firefox OS to our microcomputer when the source code will be available. It might turn into a really fun project."

However, don't expect a Firefox OS MIPS-based tablet in the near future. Voica said that the company's Creator program will remain as the primary sales channel for MIPS and PowerVR devices.

In addition to the announcement, Voica said that the company is giving away 15 reference tablets running Firefox OS to open source developers. The company has also uploaded a free WebGL SDK and a number of samples to its GitHub site, which can be used on MIPS-based processors or PowerVR GPUs. He also said that developers will have access to the Firefox Marketplace.

Want one of these reference tablets? Head here to qualify in the giveaway.

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  • mapesdhs
    MIPS-based hw eh? Get back to me when I can run it on my R16K Fuel. ;)

    Ian.
  • Marius Cirsta
    Yes, the hugely popular Firefox OS which everyone loves and can’t stop talking about :)).

    At least Chorme OS is based on Chrome which can run some native code, android apps and all that ( I think there was even talk of Linux apps ) but Firefox OS is just crap IMO … moving on…