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ST halts open-source FPGA project

Posted: 28 Apr 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fpga? generalized open source programmable logic? hardware? software? cpe modem?

Pulling the plug on an ambitious open-source FPGA hardware and software project, STMicroelectronics confirmed that it will stop development of its Generalized Open Source Programmable Logic (GOSPL) technology and pursue further programmable logic development through third-party partnerships.

The change in strategy was signalled in ST Microelectronics' first-quarter earnings release, in which the company announced net revenues of $2.083 billion, 2.6 percent higher than the first quarter of 2004. In that release, the company said it would streamline its operations by "redeploying approximately 1,000 engineers, representing 10 percent of ST's R&D workforce, from non-core programs, including FPGA and third party design services, and from CPE modem and GSM chipset activities."

What this means, said Michael Markowitz, ST director of worldwide technical media relations, is that ST is no longer trying to develop its own FPGA technology. But ST isn't abandoning programmable logic, he emphasized - instead, the company has completed recent successful licensing deals with M2000 and eASIC.

"These successes," Markowitz said, "and the slower progress we were making in our own FPGA technology, has led the company to stop development on an open-source programmable logic technology (GOSPL) and move those involved to more strategic research efforts and projects."

Launched late last year at a meeting in New Delhi, India, GOSPL describes itself as a "disruptive technology" that is destined to become the "Linux of the semiconductor world" at the organization's web site.

According to the web site, the project is seeking "qualified contributors" who will have access to a million lines of EDA source code, direct interaction with academia and industry, access to hardware and software intellectual property (IP), and access to exclusive conference materials. While membership was initially restricted, the end goal was to create a fully open hardware and software development environment.

GOSPL set up an extensive network of regional committees led by professors. Its "global spiritual mentor" was Tsugio Makimoto, corporate advisor at Sony Corp., best known for the "Makimoto's wave" theory of the cycles of semiconductor technology development.

But, Markowitz said, ST wasn't making the kind of progress it wanted to with GOSPL, and the project hadn't really taken off on its own. It is not yet clear whether the project, in some form, will continue without ST's participation.

ST raised some eyebrows last month when it incorporated a third-party embedded FPGA block from French firm M2000 in ST's wireless infrastructure "Greenfield" chip, rather than use the GOSPL technology. Last week, ST announced a licensing deal with structured ASIC vendor eASIC Corp.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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