MIPS: Risking It All on RISC
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[Recorded: July 27, 2011] Stanford University President John Hennessy and MIPS colleagues Bob Miller, Skip Stritter and Joe DiNucci will discuss the story of MIPS, a groundbreaking company in the computer industry. In 1981, Hennessy led the Stanford research team that developed a Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) microprocessor that had the potential to dramatically increase performance and reduce costs. Then in 1984, Hennessy joined Skip Stritter and John Mousourris to co-found MIPS Computer Systems to take on the daunting task of bringing a RISC microprocessor to market. Today called MIPS Technologies, it was the world's first commercial RISC chip company and one of the first semiconductor companies who rely on partners to fabricate their chips. The final radical touch: MIPS was a UNIX-based microprocessor, deeply influenced by the needs of the operating system and compilers. Hennessy and team were not just taking on huge hardware and software challenges; they were also taking on Intel, which by then had the dominant market position with its flagship processor family. MIPS became one of the primary enablers of the explosive growth of the workstation market in the late 1980s. Silicon Graphics used powerful MIPS processors in its graphic servers and workstations. Moviegoers saw the results in a new generation of visually stunning blockbusters, including Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Toy Story. Today, MIPS processors are found in networking, telecommunications, video arcade games, video game consoles, computer printers, DSL and cable modems and digital TV and PDA applications. Join us for a panel discussion on the rise of one of the great business and technology stories of computer history. The minds behind MIPS gather to discuss the creation and marketing of MIPS and its impact on the semiconductor and computing industries. The program moderator, Dave House, spent 22 years at Intel, 13 of them as general manager of the microprocessor division against which the MIPS team competed.