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The R4200 is a microprocessor designed by MIPS Technologies, Inc. (MTI) that implemented the MIPS III instruction set architecture (ISA). It was also known as the VRX during development. The microprocessor was licensed to NEC, and the company fabricated and marketed it as the VR4200. The first VR4200, an 80 MHz part, was introduced in 1993. A faster 100 MHz part became available in 1994. The R4200 was developed specifically for low-power Windows NT computers such as personal computers and laptops. MTI claimed the microprocessor's integer performance was greater than that of a high-end Intel i486 and 80% of a P5-variant Pentium microprocessor. The R4200 ultimately did not see any use in personal computers and was repositioned as an embedded microprocessor that competed with the R4600. The R4300i variant was used in the widely popular Nintendo 64 video game console.


The R4200 is a scalar design with a five-stage classic RISC pipeline. A notable feature is the use of the integer datapath for performing arithmetic operations on the mantissa portion of a floating point number. A separate datapath was used for the exponent. This scheme reduced cost by reducing the number of transistors, the size of the chip, and power consumption. It also impacted floating point performance negatively, but the R4200's intended applications did not require high floating point performance.

The R4200 has a 16 KB instruction cache and an 8 KB data cache. Both caches are direct-mapped. The instruction cache has a 32-byte line size, whereas the data cache has 16-byte line size. The data cache uses the write-back write protocol.

The R4200 has a 32-entry translation lookaside buffer (TLB) for data, and a 4-entry TLB for instructions. A 33-bit physical address is supported. The system bus is 64 bits wide and operates at half the internal clock frequency.

The R4200 contained 1.3 million transistors and had an area of 81 mm2. NEC fabricated the R4200 in a 600 nm CMOS process with three levels of interconnect. It was packaged in a 179-pin ceramic pin grid array that was compatible with the R4x00PC and R4600, or a 208-pin plastic quad flat pack (PQFP). It used a 3.3 V power supply, dissipating 1.8 W typically and a maximum of 2 W at 80 MHz.


The R4300i is a derivative of the R4200 designed by MTI for embedded applications announced on 17 April 1995.[1] It differs from the R4200 by featuring an improved integer multiplier with a lower latency and a cut-down 32-bit system bus for reduced cost. The chip had an area of 45 mm2 and was fabricated in a 350 nm process. It was packaged in a 120-pin PQFP. It uses a 3.3 V power supply and dissipates 1.8 W at 100 MHz and 2.2 W at 133 MHz.

The R4300i was licensed to NEC and Toshiba, and was marketed by those companies as the VR4300 or TX4300, respectively. Both companies offered 100 and 133 MHz versions. A derivative of the VR4300 was developed by NEC for the Nintendo 64 game console, clocked at 93.75 MHz and labeled NUS-CPU. Although development boards for the Nintendo 64 used stock NEC VR4300 CPUs, the final CPU has been found to be not pin-compatible. This singular use of a MIPS implementation produced significant royalties for MTI, sales for NEC, and made MIPS the highest volume 32/64-bit RISC ISA in 1997.[citation needed]

NEC produced two other derivatives of the R4300 for the general embedded market, the VR4305 and VR4310, announced on 20 January 1998.[2] The VR4310 was available at 100, 133 or 167 MHz. It was manufactured in a 250 nm process and packaged in a 120-pin PQFP.


  1. ^ "MIPS/NEC Announce New Consumer-market RISC Processor" (Press release). MIPS Technologies, Inc. 17 April 1995.
  2. ^ "NEC Offers Two High Cost Performance 64-bit RISC Microprocessors" (Press release). NEC Corporation. 20 January 1998.
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