SAN FRANCISCO Opening its CPU configuration tools to non-internally developed architectures, ARC International Ltd. has struck its first licensing and development deal with Toshiba Corp., the companies said Monday (May 15).
As part of the deal, the two companies will jointly develop a version of the ARC-developed ARChitect software tools to bring software configuration support to future versions of Toshiba's media embedded processor (MeP).
The ARChitect tools were originally developed to support the ARC family of configurable 32-bit RISC processor cores that can be embedded into system-on-chip (SoC) designs. Toshiba has already been using the MeP core on various SoC media-centric products and designed the MeP architecture with an eye toward configurability.
In a statement released jointly by ARC and Toshiba Monday, Jim Feldhan founder and president of market analyst Semico Research Corp., said the agreement is the latest indicator that configurable processor technology is becoming more attractive to the semiconductor industry.
"We project that, by 2010, annual shipments of SoCs incorporating a configurable core will reach 1 billion units," Feldhan said. "The work of companies such as Toshiba and ARC is one of the catalysts driving this trend, as is the ability of configurable cores to enable a very high degree of differentiation in the end device. This is critical to keeping down the overall development cost of consumer products, which is an important success factor in today's price-sensitive markets."
As part of the multiyear licensing deal with ARC, Toshiba will have access to the ARChitect processor configurator tool suite, which offers a comprehensive set of design tools and resources. The tools include a drag-and-drop graphical user interface that makes it easy to configure the features and functions that will be part of the configurable processor.
Both companies will also collaborate on the development of a next-generation version of ARChitect that is more closely suited to the MeP core, thus opening the benefits of configurability to a wider range of customers.
Yutaka Murao, senior fellow and general manager for telecommunications and custom LSI business at Toshiba, said collaboration between industry leaders would be a key to achieving configurable processor growth.
"We see strong potential needs for configurability among customers in multiple media-oriented application arenas, and believe that Toshiba should provide customers with the most versatile platform," Murao said.