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AMCC forms division to explore PowerPC assets

Posted: 01 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:applied micro circuits? ibm? powerpc 400? microprocessor?

Applied Micro Circuits Corp. announced that it will form a new division, based here, to develop the PowerPC 400-series assets it acquired from IBM Corp. in mid-April.

The Austin-based division will be run by several ex-Motorola managers with PowerPC experience, including former Motorola VP Brian Wilkie, who becomes an AMCC VP in charge of the embedded products group; Mark McDermott, former head of the Motorola-IBM-Apple Somerset design center here who will run the engineering operation; and Sam Fuller, most recently the head of the RapidIO Association, who will head up marketing.

All three men spent decades in the PowerPC operations at Motorola before leaving several years ago.

Another PowerPC-savvy engineer, Victor Menasce of Tundra Semiconductor, will be CTO of the new AMCC group.

Tom Starnes, an Austin-based microprocessor analyst at Gartner Dataquest who earlier worked at Motorola, said the AMCC move creates another leg in what is now a three-legged PowerPC stool, with AMCC, IBM and Motorola.

Motorola's chip operation, now called Freescale Semiconductor, will compete somewhat with AMCC in the data communications market, Starnes said. IBM will continue to develop the high-end PowerPC cores, which in the future could be licensed to AMCC just as the older PPC 400-series assets were sold to the San Diego-based company in April.

"The question now," Starnes said, "is how is this going to expand the presence of PowerPC in the embedded space? Brian Wilkie has a lot of experience during his years with Motorola in the embedded space, and that gives AMCC a better history, a broader embedded background."

McDermott spent 27 years at Motorola, and then worked briefly as the head of Intel Corp.'s Austin microprocessor design center. Fuller left Motorola several years ago to run the RapidIO trade association.

Thomas Tullie, senior VP of sales and WAN business at AMCC, said AMCC has an architectural license with IBM that will allow the embedded products group to create new products based on the IBM-acquired technology. "It is our intent to work very, very closely with IBM," he added.

The new AMCC embedded products group will complement the WAN operation run by Tullie, and the storage products group managed by Brent Little. Wilkie said those operations will use the PowerPC assets to attack vertical markets, while the embedded products group "will go after customers in horizontal markets," including communications and "pervasive computing."

In the AMCC-IBM deal announced April 13, AMCC agreed to pay IBM $227 million for the PowerPC intellectual property and acquisition of affiliated products. The architectural license will allow AMCC to embed PowerPC 400 cores into AMCC's own designs, which could include physical-layer cores, switching fabric cores originally designed at IBM, and data path processors from AMCC's network processor business.

In addition to the licenses, AMCC picked up IBM's standard-products in the 400 series that brought IBM an estimated $55 million in revenue in 2003 for the 403, 405 and 440 processors, said David Rickey, chairman, president and chief executive officer of AMCC. AMCC also agreed to hire approximately 70 former IBM design engineers and field application engineers working in the PowerPC business.

- David Lammers

EE Times

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