Official support for the MIPS ABI in Android is on its way, said principal MIPS mobile architect Amit Rohatgi at the Linley Tech Mobile Conference. SoCs using the MIPS architecture, like those from Ingenic Semiconductor, are found in an increasing number of low-end Android tablets, such as Ainovo's $99 Novo7 Basic. While MIPS code already exists for Android, EETimes reports Google is expected to bundle support for the architecture's application binary interface (ABI) in future Android code and library releases.
As it stands, the vast majority of Android apps (about 85 percent, according to EETimes) run on Android's Dalvik virtual machine, but about 80,000 run natively on the ARM architecture. While an ARM emulator for MIPS exists, adding the MIPS ABI to future Android releases is a much tidier solution. Reportedly, licensing for MIPS is "a fraction" of that for ARM's Cortex A9, which in turn has led to much less expensive Android tablets. With a bundled ABI making it easier to compile apps that can run natively on a MIPS processor, those very cheap tablets may actually one day be worth considering.