San Jose, Calif. -- Expanding access to its 32-bit ColdFire microcontroller architecture, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. today will launch a major licensing program for the technology in the embedded space.
The Freescale licensing approach will differ from that of the leading MPU and MCU intellectual-property providers. ARM and MIPS Technologies license their IP to both chip makers and systems houses but do not sell chips. Freescale (Austin, Texas) will sell the ColdFire technology under its own brand and will license it to OEMs, but it will not license the IP to chip rivals, said Jeff Bock, global product-marketing manager for the Microcontroller Division.
"It's not a direct assault on ARM and MIPS, but we will be infringing on the edge of their territory," Bock said.
Freescale initially will license one MCU, its midrange V2 ColdFire, offering the core through third-party semiconductor IP specialist IPextreme Inc. (Campbell, Calif.). IPextreme plans to sell the V2 to ASIC and system-on-chip designers. With the core, designers will be able to con- figure the on-chip memory and select peripherals on the V2.
To help designers reduce costs and time-to-market, a standard-product platform that includes the V2 core is also available from IPextreme. The platform is based on Freescale's 5208 ColdFire device.
The V2 ColdFire core is built around a memory-configurable and synthesizable hierarchical architecture. When implemented on a 130-nanometer process, the core supports up to 166 MHz of performance using a variable-length RISC architecture that allows instructions to be 16, 32 or 48 bits long.
Freescale plans to license additional ColdFire cores in 2007 and beyond.
The move to open up the ColdFire architecture for licensing represents a major departure for Freescale, said Bock. "Frankly, we're doing it based on customer demand," he said.
Freescale's move will also expand its market opportunities. Automotive, consumer, industrial and communications are among the key markets for MCUs.
The global controller market is forecast to increase 1.9 percent, to $12.3 billion, in 2006 and 6.3 percent, to $15.4 billion, in 2009, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
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