The newer Z8 encore series are very nice processors. I tend to go to them before PICs in smaller-scale control applications. The C compiler is only $99, professional. These parts currenlty do various peripheral jobs for millions of units in Hypercom POS terminals all over the world.
I agree story is verbose covering long history and sometime it contradicts itself. Ixys does have niche market in power semiconductor and they may be able to utilize Zilog IP in their new products. However, they can very easily achieve same with latest technology at much lower cost. Custom desgin would have given them more appropriate solution.
Wow, Zilog is a name that hasn't entered my mind for a couple of decades. But I still have fond memories from long ago of designing industrial controllers that used the Z8 CPU, and prior to that, of the very early Z80-based Timex Sinclair computer. Back in the early 80s, when the average college student couldn't afford a "real" computer, Zilog made very low-cost 8-bit processors and Clive Sinclair made very low-cost computers that allowed some of us to learn BASIC & assembly language and to play at home, at a time when our only other option was punch cards and the awful computer center on campus.
Old CPUs never die...they just lose support and get cheaper. I have no doubt that Ixys can teach that old dog some new tricks.
The best comparison to use here I think, is Infineon, and that is who Ixys are emulating. Infineon have a strong Power business, and a Microcontroller range that covers 8/16/32 bits.
Infineon have recently expanded their 8 bit families.
The fundamentals that make a good 8 bit core, in 198x, do not change in 201x, and the Z8 series is a solid 8 bit core.
It's nothing stellar, but PICs are nothing stellar either.
If you go looking for Direct Power MOSFET drive, & 5V ADC, you'll find ARMs vendors are quite thin, on 5V models. So much of the claimed ARM market dominance is something of an illusion.
Atmel have also just released their 5V version of the AVR32.
Zilog does need to drag their poor website into 201x, and target new customers. Right now it is dreadful, and looks like a start-up chasing investors.
The best I can figure Ixys paid $60M for Zilog in 2008 and got a lot of old technology. Given there are an abundance of microcontrollers and ARM and MIPs that can be licensed for a lot less, I don't get this. Samsung is betting their microcontroller ranch on ARM, so why didn't Ixys just license ARM? Also, why would EETIMEs devote 4 pages to the history of Ixys and Zilog, as they stressed repeatedly in the article, “an under the radar” and a “has been”? This whole article doesn't explain anything and leaves me puzzled.