The transition to digital representation of all media—music, photos, video—has completely transformed the home. Where we once had analog TV tuners and CD-centric music systems, we now have digital set-top boxes, media players that stream Internet content, and home network gear that would only have been used in the enterprise a few years ago. Engineering teams designing connected devices face an incredibly tough balancing act in achieving high performance with low cost. They need at the core of their product a media-capable microprocessor that is architected for low system cost. This paper provides an in-depth technical examination of the new microMIPS instruction set architecture that delivers uncompromised 32-bit performance with the code size of a 16-bit device—minimizing system memory and therefore, cost.