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MIPS is a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA)[1]:A-1[2]:19 developed by MIPS Technologies (formerly MIPS Computer Systems). The early MIPS architectures were 32-bit, with 64-bit versions added later. There are multiple versions of MIPS: including MIPS I, II, III, IV, and V; as well as five releases of MIPS32/64 (for 32- and 64-bit implementations, respectively). As of April 2017, the current version is MIPS32/64 Release 6.[3][4] MIPS32/64 primarily differs from MIPS I–V by defining the privileged kernel mode System Control Coprocessor in addition to the user mode architecture.

Designer MIPS Technologies, Imagination Technologies
Bits 64-bit (32 → 64)
Introduced 1985; 32 years ago (1985)
Version MIPS32/64 Release 6 (2014)
Design RISC
Type Register-Register
Encoding Fixed
Branching Compare and branch
Endianness Bi
Page size 4 KB
Extensions MDMX, MIPS-3D
Open No
General purpose 32
Floating point 32

Several optional extensions are also available, including MIPS-3D which is a simple set of floating-point SIMD instructions dedicated to common 3D tasks,[5] MDMX (MaDMaX) which is a more extensive integer SIMD instruction set using the 64-bit floating-point registers, MIPS16e which adds compression to the instruction stream to make programs take up less room,[6] and MIPS MT, which adds multithreading capability.[7]

Computer architecture courses in universities and technical schools often study the MIPS architecture.[8] The architecture greatly influenced later RISC architectures such as Alpha.

As of April 2017, MIPS processors are used in embedded systems such as residential gateways and routers. Originally, MIPS was designed for general-purpose computing, and during the 1980s and 1990s, MIPS processors for personal, workstation, and server computers were used by many companies such as Digital Equipment Corporation, MIPS Computer Systems, NEC, Pyramid Technology, SiCortex, Siemens Nixdorf, Silicon Graphics, and Tandem Computers. Historically, video game consoles such as the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable use MIPS processors. MIPS processors also used to be popular in supercomputers during the 1990s, but all such systems have dropped off the TOP500 list. These uses were complemented by embedded applications at first, but during the 1990s, MIPS became a major presence in the embedded processor market, and by the 2000s, most MIPS processors were for these applications. In the mid- to late-1990s, it was estimated that one in three RISC microprocessors produced was a MIPS processor.[9]

MIPS is a modular architecture supporting up to four coprocessors (CP0/1/2/3). In MIPS terminology, CP0 is the System Control Coprocessor (an essential part of the processor that is implementation-defined in MIPS I–V), CP1 is an optional floating-point unit (FPU) and CP2/3 are optional implementation-defined coprocessors (MIPS III removed CP3 and reused its opcodes for other purposes). For example, in the PlayStation video game console, CP2 is the Geometry Transformation Engine (GTE), which accelerates the processing of geometry in 3D computer graphics.



The first version of the MIPS architecture was designed by MIPS Computer Systems for its R2000 microprocessor, the first MIPS implementation. Both MIPS and the R2000 were introduced together in 1985.[citation needed] When MIPS II was introduced, MIPS was renamed MIPS I to distinguish it from the new version.[2]:32

MIPS is a load-store architecture (also known as a register-register architecture); except for the load/store instructions used to access memory, all instructions operate on the registers.


MIPS I has thirty-two 32-bit general-purpose registers. Register $0 is hardwired to zero and writes to it are discarded. Register $31 is the link register. For integer multiplication and division instructions, which run asynchronously from other instructions, a pair of 32-bit registers, HI and LO, are provided. There is a small set of instructions for copying data between the general-purpose registers and the HI/LO registers.

The program counter has 32 bits. The two low-order bits always contain zero since MIPS I instructions are 32 bits long and are aligned to their natural word boundaries.

Instruction formatsEdit

Instructions are divided into three types: R, I and J. Every instruction starts with a 6-bit opcode. In addition to the opcode, R-type instructions specify three registers, a shift amount field, and a function field; I-type instructions specify two registers and a 16-bit immediate value; J-type instructions follow the opcode with a 26-bit jump target.[1]:A-174

The following are the three formats used for the core instruction set:

Type -31-                                 format (bits)                                 -0-
R opcode (6) rs (5) rt (5) rd (5) shamt (5) funct (6)
I opcode (6) rs (5) rt (5) immediate (16)
J opcode (6) address (26)

CPU instructionsEdit

Loads and storesEdit

MIPS I has instructions that load and store 8-bit bytes, 16-bit halfwords, and 32-bit words. Only one addressing mode is supported: base + displacement. Since MIPS I is a 32-bit architecture, loading quantities fewer than 32 bits requires the datum to be either signed- or zero-extended to 32 bits. The load instructions suffixed by "unsigned" perform zero extension; otherwise sign extension is performed. Load instructions source the base from the contents of a GPR (rs) and write the result to another GPR (rt). Store instructions source the base from the contents of a GPR (rs) and the store data from another GPR (rt). All load and store instructions compute the memory address by summing the base with the sign-extended 16-bit immediate. MIPS I requires all memory accesses to be aligned to their natural word boundaries, otherwise an exception is signaled. To support efficient unaligned memory accesses, there are load/store word instructions suffixed by "left" or "right". All load instructions are followed by a load delay slot. The instruction in the load delay slot cannot use the data loaded by the load instruction. The load delay slot can be filled with an instruction that is not dependent on the load; a nop is substituted if such an instruction cannot be found.

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Load Byte LB I 3210 rs rt offset
Load Halfword LH I 3310 rs rt offset
Load Word Left LWL I 3410 rs rt offset
Load Word LW I 3510 rs rt offset
Load Byte Unsigned LBU I 3610 rs rt offset
Load Halfword Unsigned LHU I 3710 rs rt offset
Load Word Right LWR I 3810 rs rt offset
Store Byte SB I 4010 rs rt offset
Store Halfword SH I 4110 rs rt offset
Store Word Left SWL I 4210 rs rt offset
Store Word SW I 4316 rs rt offset
Store Word Right SWR I 4610 rs rt offset


MIPS I has instructions to perform addition and subtraction. These instructions source their operands from two GPRs (rs and rt), and write the result to a third GPR (rd). Alternatively, addition can source one of the operands from a 16-bit immediate (which is sign-extended to 32 bits). The instructions for addition and subtraction have two variants: by default, an exception is signaled if the result overflows; instructions with the "unsigned" suffix do not signal an exception. The overflow check interprets the result as a 32-bit two's complement integer.

MIPS I has instructions to perform bitwise logical AND, OR, XOR, and NOR. These instructions source their operands from two GPRs and write the result to a third GPR. The AND, OR, and XOR instructions can alternatively source one of the operands from a 16-bit immediate (which is zero-extended to 32 bits).

The Set on relation instructions write one or zero to the destination register if the specified relation is true or false. These instructions source their operands from two GPRs or one GPR and a 16-bit immediate (which is sign-extended to 32 bits), and write the result to a third GPR. By default, the operands are interpreted as signed integers. The variants of these instructions that are suffixed with "unsigned" interpret the operands unsigned integers (even those that source an operand from the sign-extended 16-bit immediate).

The Load Immediate Upper instruction copies the 16-bit immediate into the high-order 16 bits of a GPR. It is used in conjunction with the Or Immediate instruction to load a 32-bit immediate into a register.

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Add ADD R 010 rs rt rd 010 3210
Add Unsigned ADDU R 010 rs rt rd 010 3310
Subtract SUB R 010 rs rt rd 010 3410
Subtract Unsigned SUBU R 010 rs rt rd 010 3510
And AND R 010 rs rt rd 010 3610
Or OR R 010 rs rt rd 010 3710
Exclusive Or XOR R 010 rs rt rd 010 3810
Nor NOR R 010 rs rt rd 010 3910
Set on Less Than SLT R 010 rs rt rd 010 4210
Set on Less Than Unsigned SLTU R 010 rs rt rd 010 4310
Add Immediate ADDI I 810 rs rd immediate
Add Immediate Unsigned ADDIU I 910 $s $d immediate
Set on Less Than Immediate SLTI I 1010 $s $d immediate
Set on Less Than Immediate Unsigned SLTIU I 1110 $s $d immediate
And Immediate ANDI I 1210 $s $d immediate
Or Immediate ORI I 1310 $s $d immediate
Exclusive Or Immediate XORI I 1410 $s $d immediate
Load Upper Immediate LUI I 1510 010 $d immediate


MIPS I has instructions to perform left and right logical shifts and right arithmetic shifts. The operand is obtained from a GPR (rt), and the result is written to another GPR (rd). The shift distance is obtained from either a GPR (rs) or an 5-bit "shift amount" (the "sa" field).

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Shift Left Logical SLL R 010 010 rt rd ra 010
Shift Right Logical SRL R 010 010 rt rd sa 210
Shift Right Arithmetic SRA R 010 010 rt rd sa 310
Shift Left Logical Variable SLLV R 010 rs rt rd 010 410
Shift Right Logical Variable SRLV R 010 rs rt rd 010 610
Shift Right Arithmetic Variable SRAV R 010 rs rt rd 010 710

Multiplication and divisionEdit

MIPS I has instructions for signed and unsigned integer multiplication and division. These instructions source their operands from two GPRs and write their results to a pair of 32-bit registers called HI and LO, since they may execute separately from (and concurrently with) the other CPU instructions. For multiplication, the high- and low-order halves of the 64-bit product is written to HI and LO (respectively). For division, the quotient is written to LO and the remainder to HI. To access the results, a pair of instructions (Move from HI and Move from LO) is provided to copy the contents of HI or LO to a GPR. These instructions are interlocked: reads of HI and LO do not proceed past an unfinished arithmetic instruction that will write to HI and LO. Another pair of instructions (Move to HI or Move to LO) copies the contents of a GPR to HI and LO. These instructions are used to restore HI and LO to their original state after exception handling. Instructions that read HI or LO must be separated by two instructions that do not write to HI or LO.

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Move from HI MFHI R 010 010 010 rd 010 1610
Move to HI MTHI R 010 rs 010 010 010 1710
Move from LO MFLO R 010 010 010 rd 010 1810
Move to LO MTLO R 010 rs 010 010 010 1910
Multiply MULT R 010 rs rt 010 010 2410
Multiply Unsigned MULTU R 010 rs rt 010 010 2510
Divide DIV R 010 rs rt 010 010 2610
Divide Unsigned DIVU R 010 rs rt 010 010 2710

Jump and branchEdit

All MIPS I control flow instructions are followed by a branch delay slot. Unless the branch delay slot is filled by an instruction performing useful work, an nop is substituted. MIPS I branch instructions compare the contents of a GPR (rs) against zero or another GPR (rt) as signed integers and branch if the specified condition is true. Control is transferred to the address computed by shifting the 16-bit offset left by two bits, sign-extending the 18-bit result, and adding the 32-bit sign-extended result to the sum of the program counter (instruction address) and 810. Jumps have two versions: absolute and register-indirect. Absolute jumps ("Jump" and "Jump and Link") compute the address control is transferred to by shifting the 26-bit instr_index left by two bits and concatenating the 30-bit result with the two high-order bits of instruction in the branch delay slot address's. Register-indirect jumps transfer control to the instruction at the address sourced from a GPR (rs). The address sourced from the GPR must be word-aligned, else an exception is signaled after the instruction in the branch delay slot is executed. Branch and jump instructions that link (except for "Jump and Link Register") save the return address to GPR 31. The "Jump and Link Register" instruction permits the return address to be saved to any writable GPR.

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Jump Register JR R 010 rs 010 010 010 810
Jump and Link Register JALR R 010 rs 010 rd 010 910
Branch on Less Than Zero BLTZ I 110 rs 010 offset
Branch on Greater Than or Equal to Zero BGEZ I 110 rs 110 offset
Branch on Less Than Zero and Link BLTZAL I 110 rs 16 offset
Branch on Greater Than or Equal to Zero and Link BGEZAL I 110 rs 17 offset
Jump J J 210 instr_index
Jump and Link JAL J 310 instr_index
Branch on Equal BEQ I 410 rs rt offset
Branch on Not Equal BNE I 510 rs rt offset
Branch on Less Than or Equal to Zero BLEZ I 610 rs 010 offset
Branch on Greater Than Zero BGTZ I 710 rs 010 offset


MIPS I has two instructions for software to signal an exception: System Call and Breakpoint. System Call is used by user mode software to make kernel calls; and Breakpoint is used to transfer control to a debugger via the kernel's exception handler. Both instructions have a 20-bit Code field that can contain operating environment-specific information for the exception handler.

Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
System Call SYSCALL  ? 010 Code 1210
Breakpoint BREAK  ? 010 Code 1310

FPU instructionsEdit

MIPS has 32 floating-point registers. Two registers are paired for double precision numbers. Odd numbered registers cannot be used for arithmetic or branching, just as part of a double precision register pair, resulting in 16 usable registers for most instructions (moves/copies and loads/stores were not affected).


Name Instruction syntax Meaning Format opcode funct Notes/Encoding
Floating-Point Add add.s $x,$y,$z $x = $y + $z Floating-Point add (single precision)
Floating-Point Subtract sub.s $x,$y,$z $x = $y - $z Floating-Point subtract (single precision)
Floating-Point Multiply mul.s $x,$y,$z $x = $y * $z Floating-Point multiply (single precision)
Floating-Point Divide div.s $x,$y,$z $x = $y / $z Floating-Point divide (single precision)
Floating-Point Add add.d $x,$y,$z $x = $y + $z Floating-Point add (double precision)
Floating-Point Subtract sub.d $x,$y,$z $x = $y - $z Floating-Point subtract (double precision)
Floating-Point Multiply mul.d $x,$y,$z $x = $y * $z Floating-Point multiply (double precision)
Floating-Point Divide div.d $x,$y,$z $x = $y / $z Floating-Point divide (double precision)
Floating-Point Compare (eq,ne,lt,le,gt,ge) $f2,$f4 cond = ($f2 < $f4) Floating-point compare less than single precision
Floating-Point Compare (eq,ne,lt,le,gt,ge) $f2,$f4 cond = ($f2 < $f4) Floating-point compare less than double precision

Data TransferEdit

Name Instruction syntax Meaning Format opcode funct Notes/Encoding
Load word coprocessor lwcZ $x,CONST ($y) Coprocessor[Z].DataRegister[$x] = Memory[$y + CONST] I Loads the 4 byte word stored from: MEM[$y+CONST] into a Coprocessor data register. Sign extension.
Store word coprocessor swcZ $x,CONST ($y) Memory[$y + CONST] = Coprocessor[Z].DataRegister[$x] I Stores the 4 byte word held by a Coprocessor data register into: MEM[$y+CONST]. Sign extension.


Name Instruction syntax Meaning Format opcode funct Notes/Encoding
Branch on FP True bc1t 100
if (cond)
  goto PC+4+100;
PC relative branch if FP condition
Branch on FP False bc1f 100
if (!cond)
  goto PC+4+100;
PC relative branch if not condition


MIPS II removed the load delay slot[2]:41 and added several sets of instructions. For shared-memory multiprocessing, the Synchronize Shared Memory, Load Linked Word, and Store Conditional Word instructions were added. A set of Trap-on-Condition instructions were added. These instructions caused an exception if the evaluated condition is true. All existing branch instructions were given branch-likely versions that executed the instruction in the branch delay slot only if the branch is taken.[2]:40 These instructions improve performance in certain cases by allowing useful instructions to fill the branch delay slot.[2]:212 Doubleword load and store instructions for COP1–3 were added. Consistent with other memory access instructions, these loads and stores required the doubleword to be naturally aligned.

The instruction set for the floating point coprocessor also had several instructions added to it. An IEEE 754-compliant floating-point square root instruction was added. It supported both single- and double-precision operands. A set of instructions that converted single- and double-precision floating-point numbers to 32-bit words were added. These complemented the existing conversion instructions by allowing the IEEE rounding mode to be specified by the instruction instead of the Floating Point Control and Status Register.

MIPS Computer Systems' R6000 microprocessor (1989) is the first MIPS II implementation.[2]:8 Designed for servers, the R6000 was fabricated and sold by Bipolar Integrated Technology, but was a commercial failure. During the mid-1990s, many new 32-bit MIPS processors for embedded systems were MIPS II implementations because the introduction of the 64-bit MIPS III architecture in 1991 left MIPS II as the newest 32-bit MIPS architecture until MIPS32 was introduced in 1999.A[2]:19

Instructions added to MIPS II[1]
Name Mnemonic
Synchronize Shared Memory SYNC
Trap if Greater Than or Equal TGE
Trap if Greater Than or Equal Unsigned TGEU
Trap if Less Than TLT
Trap if Less Than Unsigned TLTU
Trap if Equal TEQ
Trap if Not Equal TNE
Branch on Less Than or Equal to Zero Likely BLEZL
Branch on Greater Than or Equal to Zero Likely BGEZL
Trap if Greater Than or Equal Immediate TGEI
Trap if Greater Than or Equal Unsigned Immediate TGEIU
Trap if Less Than Immediate TLTI
Trap if Less Than Unsigned Immediate TLTIU
Trap if Equal Immediate TEQI
Trap if Not Equal Immediate TNEI
Branch on Less Than Zero and Link Likely BLTZALL
Branch on Greater Than or Equal to Zero and Link Likely BGEZAL
Floating-Point Square Root SQRT.S
Floating-Point Square Root SQRT.D
Floating-Point Round to Word Fixed-Point ROUND.S
Floating-Point Round to Word Fixed-Point ROUND.D
Floating-Point Truncate to Word Fixed-Point TRUNC.S
Floating-Point Truncate to Word Fixed-Point TRUNC.D
Floating-Point Ceiling to Word Fixed-Point CEIL.S
Floating-Point Ceiling to Word Fixed-Point CEIL.D
Floating-Point Ceiling to Word Fixed-Point FLOOR.S
Floating-Point Ceiling to Word Fixed-Point FLOOR.D
Branch on FP False Likely BC1FL
Branch on FP True Likely BC1TL
Branch on Equal Likely BEQL
Branch on Not Equal Likely BNEL
Branch on Less Than Zero Likely BLTZL
Branch on Greater Than Zero Likely BGTZL
Load Linked LL
Load Doubleword to Coprocessor 1 LDC1
Load Doubleword to Coprocessor 2 LDC2
Load Doubleword to Coprocessor 3 LDC3
Store Conditional SC
Store Doubleword to Coprocessor 1 SDC1
Store Doubleword to Coprocessor 2 SDC2
Store Doubleword to Coprocessor 3 SDC3


MIPS III is a backwards-compatible extension of MIPS II that added support for 64-bit memory addressing and integer operations. The 64-bit data type is called a doubleword, and MIPS III extended the general-purpose registers, HI/LO registers, and program counter to 64 bits to support it. New instructions were added to load and store doublewords, to perform integer addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and shift operations on them, and to move doubleword between the GPRs and HI/LO registers. Existing instructions originally defined to operate of 32-bit words were redefined, where necessary, to sign-extend the 32-bit results to permit words and doublewords to be treated identically by most instructions. Among those instructions redefined was Load Word. In MIPS III it sign-extends words to 64 bits. To complement Load Word, a version that zero-extends was added.

The R instruction format's inability to specify the full shift distance for 64-bit shifts (its 5-bit shift amount field is too narrow to specify the shift distance for doublewords) required MIPS III to provide three 64-bit versions of each MIPS I shift instruction. The first version is a 64-bit version of the original shift instructions, used to specify constant shift distances of 0–31 bits. The second version is similar to the first, but adds 3210 the shift amount field's value so that constant shift distances of 32–64 bits can be specified. The third version obtains the shift distance from the six low-order bits of a GPR.

MIPS III added a supervisor privilege level in between the existing kernel and user privilege levels. This feature only affected the implementation-defined System Control Processor (Coprocessor 0).

CPU instructions added by MIPS III
Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Doubleword Shift Left Logical Variable DSLLV R 0 rs rt rd 0 20
Doubleword Shift Right Logical Variable DSRLV R 0 rs rt rd 0 22
Doubleword Shift Right Arithmetic Variable DSRAV R 0 rs rt rd 0 23
Doubleword Multiply DMULT R 0 rs rt 0 0 28
Doubleword Multiply Unsigned DMULTU R 0 rs rt 0 0 29
Doubleword Divide DDIV R 0 rs rt 0 0 30
Doubleword Divide Unsigned DDIVU R 0 rs rt 0 0 31
Doubleword Add DADD R 0 rs rt rd 0 44
Doubleword Add Unsigned DADDU R 0 rs rt rd 0 45
Doubleword Subtract DSUB R 0 rs rt rd 0 46
Doubleword Subtract Unsigned DSUBU R 0 rs rt rd 0 47
Doubleword Shift Left Logical DSLL R 0 0 rt rd sa 56
Doubleword Shift Right Logical DSRL R 0 0 rt rd sa 58
Doubleword Shift Right Arithmetic DSRA R 0 0 rt rd sa 59
Doubleword Shift Left Logical + 32 DSLL32 R 0 0 rt rd sa 60
Doubleword Shift Right Logical + 32 DSRL32 R 0 0 rt rd sa 62
Doubleword Shift Right Logical + 32 DSRL32 R 0 0 rt rd sa 63
Doubleword Add Immediate DADDI I 24 rs rd immediate
Doubleword Add Immediate Unsigned DADDIU I 25 rs rd immediate
Load Doubleword Left LDL I 26 rs rt offset
Load Doubleword Right LDR I 27 rs rt offset
Load Word Unsigned LWU I 39 rs rt offset
Store Doubleword Left SDL I 44 rs rt offset
Store Doubleword Right SDR I 45 rs rt offset
Load-Linked Doubleword LLD I 52 rs rt offset
Load Doubleword LD I 55 rs rt offset
Store-Conditional Doubleword SCD I 60 rs rt offset
Store Doubleword SD I 64 rs rt offset

MIPS III removed the Coprocessor 3 (CP3) support instructions, and reused its opcodes for the new doubleword instructions. The remaining coprocessors gained instructions to move doublewords between coprocessor registers and the GPRs. The floating general registers (FGRs) were extended to 64 bits and the requirement for instructions to use even-numbered register only was removed. This is incompatible with earlier versions of the architecture; a bit in the floating-point control/status register is used to operate the MIPS III floating-point unit (FPU) in a MIPS I- and II-compatible mode. The floating-point control registers were not extended for compatibility. The only new floating-point instructions added were those to copy doublewords between the CPU and FPU convert single- and double-precision floating-point numbers into doubleword integers and vice versa.

FPU instructions added by MIPS III
Instruction name Mnemonic Format Encoding
Doubleword Move To Coprocessor 1 DMFC1 R 17 1 rt fs 0 0
Doubleword Move To Coprocessor 1 DMTC1 R 17 5 rt fs 0 0
Floating Point Round to Long ROUND.L.S R 17 16 0 fs fd 8
Floating Point Round to Long ROUND.L.D R 17 17 0 fs fd 8
Floating Point Truncate to Long TRUNC.L.S R 17 16 0 fs fd 9
Floating Point Truncate to Long TRUNC.L.D R 17 17 0 fs fd 9
Floating Point Ceiling to Long CEIL.L.S R 17 16 0 fs fd 10
Floating Point Ceiling to Long CEIL.L.D R 17 17 0 fs fd 10
Floating Point Floor to Long FLOOR.L.S R 17 16 0 fs fd 11
Floating Point Floor to Long FLOOR.L.D R 17 17 0 fs fd 11
Floating Point Convert to Single CVT.S.L R 17 16 0 fs fd 32
Floating Point Convert to Double CVT.D.L R 17 17 0 fs fd 33
Floating Point Convert to Long CVT.L.S R 17 16 0 fs fd 37
Floating Point Convert to Long CVT.L.D R 17 17 0 fs fd 37

MIPS Computer Systems' R4000 microprocessor (1991) was the first MIPS III implementation. It was designed for use in personal, workstation, and server computers. MIPS Computer Systems aggressively promoted the MIPS architecture and R4000, establishing the Advanced Computing Environment (ACE) consortium advance its Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) standard, which aimed to establish MIPS as the dominant personal computing platform. ARC found little success in personal computers, but the R4000 (and the R4400 derivative) were widely used in workstation and server computers, especially by its largest user, Silicon Graphics. Other uses of the R4000 included high-end embedded systems and supercomputers.

MIPS III was eventually implemented by a number of embedded microprocessors. Quantum Effect Design's R4600 (1993) and its derivatives was widely used in high-end embedded systems and low-end workstations and servers. MIPS Technologies' R4200 (1994), was designed for embedded systems, laptop, and personal computers. A derivative, the R4300i, fabricated by NEC Electronics, was used in the Nintendo 64 game console. The Nintendo 64, along with the PlayStation, were the among the highest volume users of MIPS architecture processors in the mid-1990s.


MIPS IV is the fourth version of the architecture. It is a superset of MIPS III and is compatible with all existing versions of MIPS. MIPS IV was designed to mainly improve floating-point (FP) performance. To improve access to operands, an indexed addressing mode (base + index, both sourced from GPRs) for FP loads and stores was added, as were prefetch instructions for performing memory prefetching and specifying cache hints (these supported both the base + offset and base + index addressing modes).

MIPS IV added several features to improve instruction-level parallelism. To alleviate the bottleneck caused by a single condition bit, seven condition code bits were added to the floating-point control and status register, bringing the total to eight. FP comparison and branch instructions were redefined so they could specify which condition bit was written or read (respectively); and the delay slot in between an FP branch that read the condition bit written to by a prior FP comparison was removed. Support for partial predication was added in the form of conditional move instructions for both GPRs and FPRs; and an implementation could choose between having precise or imprecise exceptions for IEEE 754 traps.

MIPS IV added several new FP arithmetic instructions for both single- and double-precision FPNs: fused-multiply add or subtract, reciprocal, and reciprocal square-root. The FP fused-multiply add or subtract instructions perform either one or two roundings (it is implementation-defined), to exceed or meet IEEE 754 accuracy requirements (respectively). The FP reciprocal and reciprocal square-root instructions do not comply with IEEE 754 accuracy requirements, and produce results that differ from the required accuracy by one or two units of last place (it is implementation defined). These instructions serve applications where instruction latency is more important than accuracy.

The first MIPS IV implementation was the MIPS Technologies R8000 microprocessor chipset (1994). The design of the R8000 began at Silicon Graphics, Inc. and it was only used in high-end workstations and servers for scientific and technical applications where high performance on large floating-point workloads was important. Later implementations were the MIPS Technologies R10000 (1996) and the Quantum Effect Devices R5000 (1996) and RM7000 (1998). The R10000, fabricated and sold by NEC Electronics and Toshiba, and its derivatives were used by NEC, Pyramid Technology, Silicon Graphics, Inc., and Tandem Computers (among others) in workstations, servers, and supercomputers. The R5000 and R7000 found use in high-end embedded systems, personal computers, and low-end workstations and servers. A derivative of the R5000 from Toshiba, the R5900, was used in Sony Computer Entertainment's Emotion Engine, which powered its Playstation 2 game console.


Announced on 21 October 1996 at the Microprocessor Forum 1996 alongside the MIPS Digital Media Extensions (MDMX) extension, MIPS V was designed to improve the performance of 3D graphics transformations.[10] In the mid-1990s, a major use of non-embedded MIPS microprocessors were graphics workstations from SGI. MIPS V was completed by the integer-only MDMX extension to provide a complete system for improving the performance of 3D graphics applications.[11]

MIPS V implementations were never introduced. On 12 May 1997, SGI announced the "H1" ("Beast") and "H2" ("Capitan") microprocessors. The former was to have been the first MIPS V implementation, and was due to be introduced in the first half of 1999.[12] The "H1" and "H2" projects were later combined and were eventually canceled in 1998. While there have not been any MIPS V implementations, MIPS64 Release 1 (1999) was based on MIPS V and retains all of its features as an optional Coprocessor 1 (FPU) feature called Paired-Single.

MIPS V added a new data type, the Paired Single (PS), which consisted of two single-precision (32-bit) floating-point numbers stored in the existing 64-bit floating-point registers. Variants of existing floating-point instructions for arithmetic, compare and conditional move were added to operate on this data type in a SIMD fashion. New instructions were added for loading, rearranging and converting PS data.[2]:426–429 It was the first instruction set to exploit floating-point SIMD with existing resources.[11]


When MIPS Technologies was spun-out of Silicon Graphics in 1998, it refocused on the embedded market. Up to MIPS V, each successive version was a strict superset of the previous version, but this property was found to be a problem,[citation needed] and the architecture definition was changed to define two 32- and 64-bit architectures: MIPS32 and a 64-bit MIPS64. Both were introduced in 1999.[13] MIPS32 is based on MIPS II with some additional features from MIPS III, MIPS IV, and MIPS V; MIPS64 is based on MIPS V.[13] NEC, Toshiba and SiByte (later acquired by Broadcom) each obtained licenses for MIPS64 as soon as it was announced. Philips, LSI Logic, IDT, Raza Microelectronics, Inc., Cavium, Loongson Technology and Ingenic Semiconductor have since joined them.

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 1Edit

The first release of MIPS32, based on MIPS II, added conditional moves, prefetch instructions, and other features from the R4000 and R5000 families of 64-bit processors.[13] The first release of MIPS64 adds a MIPS32 mode to run 32-bit code.[13] The MUL and MADD (multiply-add) instructions, previously available in some implementations, were added to the MIPS32 and MIPS64 specifications, as were cache control instructions.[13]

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 2Edit

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 3Edit

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 5Edit

Announced on December 6, 2012.[14] Release 4 was skipped because the number four is perceived as unlucky in many Asian cultures.[15]

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 6Edit

MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 6 in 2014 added[16] the following:

  • a new family of branches with no delay slot:
    • unconditional branches (BC) & branch-and-link (BALC) with a 26-bit offset,
    • conditional branch on zero/non-zero with a 21-bit offset,
    • full set of signed & unsigned conditional branches compare between two registers (e.g. BGTUC) or a register against zero (e.g. BGTZC),
    • full set of branch-and-link which compare a register against zero (e.g. BGTZALC).
  • index jump instructions with no delay slot designed to support large absolute addresses.
  • instructions to load 16-bit immediates at bit position 16, 32 or 48, allowing to easily generate large constants.
  • PC-relative load instructions, as well as address generation with large (PC-relative) offsets.
  • bit-reversal & byte-alignment instructions (previously only available with the DSP extension).
  • multiply & divide instructions redefined so that they use a single register for their result).
  • instructions generating truth values now generate all zeroes or all ones instead of just clearing/setting the 0-bit,
  • instructions using a truth value now only interpret all-zeroes as false instead of just looking at the 0-bit.

Removed infrequently used instructions:

  • some conditional moves
  • branch likely instructions (deprecated in previous releases).
  • integer overflow trapping instructions with 16-bit immediate
  • integer accumulator instructions (together HI/LO registers, moved to the DSP Application-Specific Extension)
  • unaligned load instructions (LWL & LWR), (requiring that most ordinary loads & stores support misaligned access, possibly via trapping and with the addition of a new instruction (BALIGN))

Reorganized the instruction encoding, freeing space for future expansions.


The microMIPS32/64 architectures are supersets of the MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures (respectively) designed to replace the MIPS16e ASE. A disadvantage of MIPS16e is that it requires a mode switch before any of its 16-bit instructions can be processed. microMIPS adds versions of the most-frequently used 32-bit instructions that are encoded as 16-bit instructions. This allows programs to intermix 16- and 32-bit instructions without having to switch modes. microMIPS was introduced alongside of MIPS32/64 Release 3, and each subsequent release of MIPS32/64 has a corresponding microMIPS32/64 version. A processor may implement microMIPS32/64 or both microMIPS32/64 and its corresponding MIPS32/64 subset. Starting with MIPS32/64 Release 6, support for MIPS16e ended, and microMIPS is the only form of code compression in MIPS.

Application-Specific ExtensionsEdit

The base MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures can be supplemented with a number of optional architectural extensions, which are collectively referred to as Application-Specific Extensions (ASEs). These ASEs provide features that improve the efficiency and performance of certain workloads, such as digital signal processing.


Enhancements for microcontroller applications. The MCU ASE (Application Specific Extension) has been developed to extend the interrupt controller support, reduce the interrupt latency and enhance the I/O peripheral control function typically required in microcontroller system designs.

  • Separate priority and vector generation
  • Supports up to 256 interrupts in EIC (External Interrupt Controller) mode and eight hardware interrupt pins
  • Provides 16-bit vector offset address
  • Pre-fetching of the interrupt exception vector
  • Automated Interrupt Prologue – adds hardware to save and update system status before the interrupt handling routine
  • Automated Interrupt Epilogue – restores the system state previously stored in the stack for returning from the interrupt.
  • Interrupt Chaining – supports the service of pending interrupts without the need to exit the initial interrupt routine, saving the cycles required to store and restore multiple active interrupts
  • Supports speculative pre-fetching of the interrupt vector address. Reduces the number of interrupt service cycles by overlapping memory accesses with pipeline flushes and exception prioritization
  • Includes atomic bit set/clear instructions which enables bits within an I/O register that are normally used to monitor or control external peripheral functions to be modified without interruption, ensuring the action is performed securely.


MIPS16 is an Application-Specific Extension for MIPS I through to V designed by LSI Logic and MIPS Technologies, announced on 21 October 1996 alongside its first implementation, the LSI Logic TinyRISC processor.[17] MIPS16 was subsequently licensed by NEC Electronics, Philips Semiconductors, and Toshiba (among others); and implemented as an extension to the MIPS I, II, an III architectures. MIPS16 decreases the size of application by up to 40% by using 16-bit instructions instead of 32-bit instructions' and also improves power efficiency, the instruction cache hit rate, and is equivalent in performance to its base architecture.[18] It is supported by hardware and software development tools from MIPS Technologies and other providers.


MIPS16e is an improved version of MIPS16 first supported by MIPS32 and MIPS64 Release 1.


MIPS16e2 is an improved version of MIPS16 that is supported by MIPS32 and MIPS64 (up to Release 5). Release 6 replaced it with microMIPS.


The DSP ASE is an optional extension to the MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 2 and newer instruction sets which can be used to accelerate a large range of "media" computations—particularly audio and video. The DSP module comprises a set of instructions and state in the integer pipeline and requires minimal additional logic to implement in MIPS processor cores. Revision 2 of the ASE was introduced in the second half of 2006. This revision adds extra instructions to the original ASE, but is otherwise backwards-compatible with it.[19]

Unlike the bulk of the MIPS architecture, it's a fairly irregular set of operations, many chosen for a particular relevance to some key algorithm.

Its main novel features (vs original MIPS32):[20]

  • Saturating arithmetic (when a calculation overflows, deliver the representable number closest to the non-overflowed answer).
  • Fixed-point arithmetic on signed 32- and 16-bit fixed-point fractions with a range of -1 to +1 (these are widely called "Q31" and "Q15").
  • The existing integer multiplication and multiply-accumulate instructions, which deliver results into a double-size accumulator (called "hi/lo" and 64 bits on MIPS32 CPUs). The DSP ASE adds three more accumulators, and some different flavours of multiply-accumulate.
  • SIMD instructions operating on 4 x unsigned bytes or 2 x 16-bit values packed into a 32-bit register (the 64-bit variant of the DSP ASE supports larger vectors, too).
  • SIMD operations are basic arithmetic, shifts and some multiply-accumulate type operations.

To make use of MIPS DSP ASE, you may:

  • Hand-code in assembly language, which is the most time-consuming method of utilizing the MIPS DSP ASE, but can produce code with the highest performance.
  • Use asm macros supported by GCC that produce DSP instructions directly from C code.
  • Use intrinsics supported by GCC for the MIPS DSP ASE.
  • Use fixed-point data types and operators in C supported by GCC. The MIPS DSP ASE is the only processor architecture that supports fixed-point data types in a general-purpose processor.
  • Use auto-vectorization supported by GCC for loops via the optimization option -ftree-vectorize. The advantage of auto-vectorization is that the compiler can recognize scalar variables (which can be integer, fixed-point, or floating-point types) in order to utilize SIMD instructions automatically. In the ideal case, when auto-vectorization is used, there is no need to use SIMD variables explicitly.[21]

Linux 2.6.12-rc5 starting 2005-05-31 adds support for the DSP ASE. Note that to actually make use of the DSP ASE a toolchain which support this is required. GCC already has support for DSP and DSPr2.

MIPS SIMD ArchitectureEdit

Instruction set extensions designed to accelerate multimedia.

  • 32 vector registers of 16 x 8-bit, 8 x 16-bit, 4 x 32-bit, and 2 x 64 bit vector elements
  • Efficient vector parallel arithmetic operations on integer, fixed-point and floating-point data
  • Operations on absolute value operands
  • Rounding and saturation options available
  • Full precision multiply and multiply-add
  • Conversions between integer, floating-point, and fixed-point data
  • Complete set of vector-level compare and branch instructions with no condition flag
  • Vector (1D) and array (2D) shuffle operations
  • Typed load and store instructions for endian-independent operation
  • IEEE Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic 754-2008 compliant
  • Element precise floating-point exception signaling
  • Pre-defined scalable extensions for chips with more gates/transistors
  • Accelerates compute-intensive applications in conjunction with leveraging generic compiler support
  • Software-programmable solution for consumer electronics applications or functions not covered by dedicated hardware
  • Emerging data mining, feature extraction, image and video processing, and human-computer interaction applications
  • High-performance scientific computing

MIPS VirtualizationEdit

Hardware supported virtualization technology.

MIPS Multi-ThreadingEdit

Each multi-threaded MIPS core can support up to two VPEs (Virtual Processing Elements) which share a single pipeline as well as other hardware resources. However, since each VPE includes a complete copy of the processor state as seen by the software system, each VPE appears as a complete standalone processor to an SMP Linux operating system. For more fine-grained thread processing applications, each VPE is capable of supporting up to 9 TCs allocated across 2 VPEs. The TCs share a common execution unit but each has its own program counter and core register files so that each can handle a thread from the software. The MIPS MT architecture also allows the allocation of processor cycles to threads, and sets the relative thread priorities with an optional Quality of Service (QoS) manager block. This enables two prioritization mechanisms that determine the flow of information across the bus. The first mechanism allows the user to prioritize one thread over another. The second mechanism is used to allocate a specified ratio of the cycles to specific threads over time. The combined use of both mechanisms allows effective allocation of bandwidth to the set of threads, and better control of latencies. In real-time systems, system-level determinism is very critical, and the QoS block facilitates improvement of the predictability of a system. Hardware designers of advanced systems may replace the standard QoS block provided by MIPS Technologies with one that is specifically tuned for their application.

Single-threaded microprocessors today waste many cycles while waiting to access memory, considerably limiting system performance.[dubious ] The use of multi-threading masks the effect of memory latency by increasing processor utilization. As one thread stalls, additional threads are instantly fed into the pipeline and executed, resulting in a significant gain in application throughput. Users can allocate dedicated processing bandwidth to real-time tasks resulting in a guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS). MIPS’ MT technology constantly monitors the progress of threads and dynamically takes corrective actions to meet or exceed the real-time requirements. A processor pipeline can achieve 80-90% utilization by switching threads during data-dependent stalls or cache misses. All of this leads to an improved mobile device user experience, as responsiveness is greatly increased.


SmartMIPS is an Application-Specific Extension (ASE) designed by Gemplus International and MIPS Technologies to improve performance and reduce memory consumption for smart card software. It is supported by MIPS32 only, since smart cards do not require the capabilities of MIPS64 processors. Few smart cards use SmartMIPS.




Open Virtual Platforms (OVP)[22] includes the freely available for non-commercial use simulator OVPsim, a library of models of processors, peripherals and platforms, and APIs which enable users to develop their own models. The models in the library are open source, written in C, and include the MIPS 4K, 24K, 34K, 74K, 1004K, 1074K, M14K, microAptiv, interAptiv, proAptiv 32 bit cores and the MIPS 64bit 5K range of cores. These models are created and maintained by Imperas[23] and in partnership with MIPS Technologies have been tested and assigned the MIPS-Verified (tm) mark. Sample MIPS-based platforms include both bare metal environments and platforms for booting unmodified Linux binary images. These platforms–emulators are available as source or binaries and are fast, free for non-commercial usage, and are easy to use. OVPsim is developed and maintained by Imperas and is very fast (hundreds of million of instructions per second), and built to handle multicore homogeneous and heterogeneous architectures and systems.

There is a freely available MIPS32 simulator (earlier versions simulated only the R2000/R3000) called SPIM for use in education. EduMIPS64[24] is a GPL graphical cross-platform MIPS64 CPU simulator, written in Java/Swing. It supports a wide subset of the MIPS64 ISA and allows the user to graphically see what happens in the pipeline when an assembly program is run by the CPU. It has educational purposes and is used in some[who?] computer architecture courses in universities around the world.

MARS[25] is another GUI-based MIPS emulator designed for use in education, specifically for use with Hennessy's Computer Organization and Design.

WebMIPS[26] is a browser-based MIPS simulator with visual representation of a generic, pipelined processor. This simulator is quite useful for register tracking during step by step execution.

More advanced free emulators are available from the GXemul (formerly known as the mips64emul project) and QEMU projects. These emulate the various MIPS III and IV microprocessors in addition to entire computer systems which use them.

Commercial simulators are available especially for the embedded use of MIPS processors, for example Wind River Simics (MIPS 4Kc and 5Kc, PMC RM9000, QED RM7000, Broadcom/Netlogic ec4400, Cavium Octeon I), Imperas (all MIPS32 and MIPS64 cores), VaST Systems (R3000, R4000), and CoWare (the MIPS4KE, MIPS24K, MIPS25Kf and MIPS34K).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Price, Charles (September 1995). MIPS IV Instruction Set (Revision 3.2), MIPS Technologies, Inc.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Sweetman, Dominic (1999). See MIPS Run. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. ISBN 1-55860-410-3. 
  3. ^ "MIPS32 Architecture". Imagination Technologies. Retrieved 4 Jan 2014. 
  4. ^ "MIPS64 Architecture". Imagination Technologies. Retrieved 4 Jan 2014. 
  5. ^ "MIPS-3D ASE". Imagination Technologies. Retrieved 4 Jan 2014. 
  6. ^ "MIPS16e". Imagination Technologies. Retrieved 4 Jan 2014. 
  7. ^ "MIPS Multithreading". Imagination Technologies. Retrieved 4 Jan 2014. 
  8. ^ University of California, Davis. "ECS 142 (Compilers) References & Tools page". Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  9. ^ Rubio, Victor P. "A FPGA Implementation of a MIPS RISC Processor for Computer Architecture Education" (PDF). New Mexico State University. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Silicon Graphics Introduces Enhanced MIPS Architecture to Lead the Interactive Digital Revolution". Silicon Graphics, Inc. 21 October 1996. 
  11. ^ a b Gwennap, Linley (18 November 1996). "Digital, MIPS Add Multimedia Extensions". Microprocessor Report. pp. 24–28.
  12. ^ "Silicon Graphics Previews New High-Performance MIPS Microprocessor Roadmap" (Press release). 12 May 1997. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "MIPS Technologies, Inc. Enhances Architecture to Support Growing Need for IP Re-Use and Integration" (Press release). Business Wire. May 3, 1999. 
  14. ^ "Latest Release of MIPS Architecture Includes Virtualization and SIMD Key Functionality for Enabling Next Generation of MIPS-Based Products" (Press release). MIPS Technologies. December 6, 2012. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "MIPS skips Release 4 amid bidding war". EE Times. 10 December 2012. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Silicon Graphics Introduces Compact MIPS RISC Microprocessor Code For High Performance at a Low Cost" (Press release). 21 October 1996. 
  18. ^ Sweetman, Dominic (2007). See MIPS Run (2nd ed.). San Francisco, California: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. pp. 425–427. ISBN 978-0-12-088421-6. 
  19. ^ Using the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC): MIPS DSP Built-in Functions
  20. ^ Instruction Set Architecture - LinuxMIPS
  21. ^ Five Methods of Utilizing the MIPS® DSP ASE
  22. ^ "OVP: Fast Simulation, Free Open Source Models. Virtual Platforms for software development". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  23. ^ "Imperas". Imperas. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  24. ^ "EduMIPS64". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  25. ^ "MARS MIPS simulator - Missouri State University". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  26. ^ (online demonstration) (source)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit