What's It All About, Linaro?

Amid the lingo of open source software is a new-ish entrant: The Linaro Foundation, which dropped an intersection with cable in the May 29 formation of the “Linaro Digital Home Group,” abbreviated “LHG.”

What’s it all about? On the surface, it’s a way for chip makers, set-top/gateway manufacturers and service providers to manage the complexities involved with moving from one type of silicon chip architecture (“MIPS”), to another (“ARM”).

In at the get-go are Cisco Systems, Comcast and STMicroelectronics (all active members of the RDK, or Reference Design Kit), as well as Allwinner, ARM, Fujitsu and HiSilicon.

There are lots of moving parts here, starting with the reason for the shift to ARM-based silicon in the first place: Lower power, higher speeds and smaller form factors. Mobile devices use ARM-based chips, for instance; in-home devices like set-tops and gateways are likely next.

And yes, MIPS vs. ARM is a religious architectural debate — not unlike Microsoft vs. Apple, in the operating system battles of yore, and Apple vs. Android, in today’s techno-landscape.

“Going ARM,” for companies accustomed to building MIPS-based silicon (like Broadcom, as one example) usually starts with at least one outburst of, “Over my dead body!”

In a nutshell: LHG aims to steer the industry further into open-source software, and specifically the software related to ARM-based chips, so that the industry can build in-home gear that runs cooler, faster and smaller. Off we go.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at www.translation-please.com or multichannel.com/blog.