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Coldfire core now open for OEM licensing

Posted: 01 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ColdFire? ASIC? SoC? Ipextreme? RISC architecture?

Expanding access to its 32bit ColdFire MCU architecture, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. launched last November a major licensing program for the technology in the embedded space.

The Freescale licensing approach differs from that of the leading MPU and MCU intellectual property (IP) providers. ARM and MIPS Technologies license their IP to both chipmakers and systems houses, but do not sell chips. Texas-based Freescale will sell the ColdFire technology under its own brand and will license it to OEMs, but it will not license the IP to chip rivals, said Jeff Bock, global product-marketing manager for the MCU division.

"It's not a direct assault on ARM and MIPS, but we will be infringing on the edge of their territory," Bock said.

Freescale will initially license one MCU, its midrange V2 ColdFire, offering the core through third-party semiconductor IP specialist IPextreme Inc. based in Campbell, California. IPextreme plans to sell the V2 to ASIC and SoC designers. With the core, designers can configure the on-chip memory and select peripherals on the V2.

To help designers reduce costs and time-to-market, a standard-product platform that includes the V2 core is also available from IPextreme. The platform is based on Freescale's 5208 ColdFire device.

The V2 ColdFire core is built around a memory-configurable and synthesizable hierarchical architecture. When implemented on a 130nm process, the core supports up to 166MHz of performance using a variable-length RISC architecture that allows instructions to be 16-, 32- or 48bits long.

Freescale plans to license additional ColdFire cores this year and beyond.

The move to open up the ColdFire architecture for licensing represents a major departure for Freescale, said Bock. "Frankly, we're doing it based on customer demand," he said.

Freescale's move will also expand its market opportunities. Automotive, consumer, industrial and communications are among the key markets for MCUs.

Standard product platform shows V2 deployment. Tested and verified subsystems serve as system foundation.

The global controller market is forecast to increase 1.9 percent, to $12.3 billion, in 2006 and 6.3 percent, to $15.4 billion, in 2009, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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