Last year, the Russian government announced that it doesn't want to rely on Intel and AMD chips from the U.S. anymore and will focus more on using homegrown chips from Russia.
At the time, Russia's Industry and Trade Ministry announced that it intended to use chips from the Russian company Baikal Electronics, which was supposed to produce an eight-core chip for 2015 that would utilize ARM's 64-bit Cortex-A57 processors at a 2 GHz frequency per core.
Whether that plan is still in place or not is unclear, but the company's first chip this year includes a MIPS rather than an ARM CPU. The two companies have recently announced that the Baikal-T1 chip will utilize a dual-core 32-bit MIPS P5600 CPU that's clocked at 1.2 GHz.
Imagination's P5600 MIPS processor appears to do quite well in a performance/per MHz race, but given that it is a last generation 32-bit CPU (Release 5) and clocked at only 1.2 GHz, it's unlikely it would have won against a 64-bit 2 GHz Cortex-A57 from an absolute performance point of view. There are also only two cores, as opposed to the planned eight cores for the ARM-based chip.
Baikal may still intend to use the ARM Cortex-A57 for personal computers and micro-servers as originally planned, but for networking devices that eight-core 2 GHz chip would be overkill, which is why it's likely going with the lower-performance MIPS processor. Imagination's MIPS CPUs also tend to be preferred in networking devices, and the company has more experience in this market than competitors.
The Baikal-T1 chip, which will utilize a dual-core MIPS CPU will only use up to 5W of power. This makes it appropriate for networking equipment or other fanless designs. The chip also includes multiple high-speed (1G/10G Ethernet, PCIe, SATA 6G, USB) and low-speed interfaces (GPIO, I2C, UART, SPI). The 25 x 25 mm package is manufactured on a 28nm process.
The MIPS P5600 CPU supports Imagination's recently announced "OmniShield" security solution that can utilize up to eight different security domains to isolate applications and other software from harming each other. It also supports a 128-bit SIMD engine as well as Enhanced Virtual Addressing (EVA) and Extended Physical Addressing (EPA), which help the 32-bit CPU overcome its memory limitations.
Imagination believes that the Russian company's adoption of MIPS CPUs will convince the Russian government, which spends $1.3 billion annually in computing technology, to invest further in acquiring MIPS-based processors and devices.