Well, this certainly took me by surprise, and I bet it's going to leave some other folks reeling also. I just got off the phone with the folks from the microcontroller division at NXP and the guys from embedded software development tools provider Code Red Technologies.
NXP has just announced its acquisition of Code Red, which is recognized industry-wide for its innovative tools that enable rapid development and debugging of full-featured applications for 32-bit ARM microcontrollers. (The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but I bet it's left the guys at Code Red with smiles on their faces :-)
These tools include the Red Suite 5 (Full Edition), the Red Suite 5 (NXP Edition), and the very popular LPCXpresso IDE (integrated development environment) – a very low-cost, end-to-end development platform for NXP LPC microcontrollers – enabling embedded developers to develop applications from initial evaluation through to final production.
LPCXpresso is based on Eclipse, with enhancements specific to LPC microcontrollers. Since its release in 2009, the LPCXpresso community has grown steadily, with over 66,000 unique software activations of the LPCXpresso IDE since January 2010.
From NXP and Code Red's perspective, this is a great move. It's no longer sufficient for a microcontroller company to simply provide silicon – in order to make thing easy and reduce risk for their end users, it's also necessary for the microcontroller vendor to provide a software infrastructure and ecosystem that includes tools, middleware, drivers, libraries, and so forth. With this acquisition, NXP gain control of a great set of tools (while also denying these tools to their competitors as discussed below). Meanwhile, the folks from Code Red gain all the advantages associated with working "inside" the main organization.
The folks from NXP say that they will also continue to fully support existing third-party offerings from their partners such as IAR Systems and Keil.
The downside for current Code Red customers using non-LPC platforms is that they will only continue to have support through May 2014. In addition, the full Red Suite (non-NXP edition) product will only continue to be sold for 8 months through to the end of December 2013.
Changing tools and design / verification environments is always time- and resource-intensive, so I bet today's news is extremely unwelcome to many designers working with non-NXP MCUs. (It will be interesting to hear what those folks have to say about this, assuming it's "fit to print" :-)
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