SAN FRANCISCO — Freescale Semiconductor will purchase the communications processor business of Mindspeed Technologies. The unit includes ARM-based multicore embedded processors and associated software targeting systems such as home gateways and network-attached storage.
The acquisition will add to Freescale’s portfolio of multicore processors, filling holes in its product portfolio, said Tom Deitrich, senior vice president and general manager for Freescale’s Digital Networking product group.
Chief among the Mindspeed products is the Comcerto 2000 SoC, which combines two 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs with packet engines and communications accelerators. Freescale plans to equip such devices with enabling software to fit applications such as low-end multifunction routers.
"Freescale has embedded processors, but they’re not really big in broadband and home gateway," says Jag Bolaria, a principal analyst at The Linley Group.
The Mindspeed products will enhance Freescale's Layerscape portfolio of SoCs, which includes ARM-based cores and accelerators. The goal, Deitrich said, is to make products easy to program without deep knowledge of hardware, part of a trend toward software-defined networking (SDN). While a fully SDN ecosystem is several years away, development of easily programmable devices is key to Freescale’s future.
"It’s really important that we make our products SDN aware and capable in design cycles we use today, make sure products work out of the box with protocols like Openflow," Deitrich said.
"Freescale will probably end up with eight to 10 products by proliferating the architecture down and up," creating versions with eight to 16 cores at the high end, Bolaria told us. The first new products from the deal could be "stripped down versions of current offerings with fewer cores and less speed for a more easily programmable device."
As part of the agreement, key members of Mindspeed’s teams will join Freescale. The transaction is expected to close in Q2, 2014; terms of the deal were not released.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times