No end of Power
When asked if Freescale's licensing of A50-series meant that Freescale was in a process of phasing out its use of the PowerPC architecture Lowe was adamant it did not. "The Power architecture has proven itself at the high end. In 2013 85 percent of networking introductions are going to be Power architecture." The adoption of the latest ARM license is partly a response to customer requests, Lowe added.
And in automotive microcontrollers there is a similar story. Power is the 32-bit architecture for all but a few infotainment applications and Freescale has made 15-year supply agreements based on Power, along with road-mapping for its automotive customers.
There is also the potential as multicore architectures and virtualization become more mainstream of having ARM and Power cores working together, Lowe said.
Lowe said that with regard to manufacturing Freescale was happy with its fab-lite strategy. "The general rule is that at 90-nm and higher geometries we make it in-house. At 65-nm and smaller we outsource. For the microcontroller and analog business 90-nm is close to leading-edge technology. The percentage we outsource will grow over time."
However, when it was pointed out that increasingly large foundries will want to offer mixed-signal manufacturing capability for fabless companies to offer microcontrollers and other circuits in competition, Lowe said this was not a big threat right now.
"Analog is highly fragmented and there are many proprietary techniques and technologies. If you go to a foundry, you either have to move your process or they want you to use a standard process which involves compromise. Also analog involves 1,000s of tapeouts. The foundries don't like it."
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