CAMBRIDGE, England Acorn Group plc has cancelled its "Phoebe" RISC PC2 project as part of a restructuring effort, effectively signaling the end of its involvement in the computer systems market. The company will also be laying off about 75 of its 175 workers.
Following a strategic review of its operations, Acorn said it is implementing a restructuring program that will enable it to become more focused on digital TV and thin-client components.
Acorn, the parent of ARM Ltd., said it will continue to supply its existing desktop computer ranges, notably the RISC PC. But Acorn plans to transfer relevant logistics and systems activities to Xemplar Education Ltd., its joint-venture with Apple Computer Inc. which supplies computers to U.K. schools.
The Phoebe RISC PC2, based on a 233-MHz StrongARM SA110 processor, was due to be launched in November. Development on the system had been completed, but Acorn is canceling the project to realign the company as a research and engineering organization.
The developments mark a watershed for Acorn, said Stan Boland, chief executive of Acorn Group. "Whilst we are sad to be announcing the redundancies, we are making these important changes to Acorn's market position and business shape to recognize that the future of this company lies as a leading player in digital TV system components, and in partnership with other technology companies," he said.
Founded in 1978 as a computer developer, Acorn's machines were considered innovative but never achieved sales volumes comparable to those of the Apple or IBM PC architectures. And the Acorn RISC Machine (ARM) microprocessor architecture, which was originally developed to power Acorn workstations, has found greater success as an embeddable RISC core sold as a licensable intellectual property. In last few years Acorn has worked as a developer of network computers and of interactive digital television set-top-boxes.
"Acorn's ability to create very fast and powerful silicon and software designs for some of the world's leading companies is increasingly being acknowledged," Boland said. "We are working hard to engage successfully in this market with a number of partners and potential partners."