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Freescale mulls foray into server computing

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded? server computing? Cortex?

Freescale Semiconductor could use its recently announced Cortex-A50 series processor licence from ARM to extend its digital networking activity into server computing, CEO Gregg Lowe said during the Embedded World summit.

When asked in an interview by EE Times whether Freescale could use the A50 series 64bit ARM subscription licence to expand into the server market Lowe said: "Yes, I think so." Lowe added: "There is a lot happening in that space."

The Cortex-A50 series, currently being developed by ARM and partners, includes the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 as a big-little combination. Freescale announced that it had licensed the A50-series of microprocessors on a multi-year subscription basis for future versions of its i.MX applications processor and QorIQ communications processor product lines.

Freescale also has provides processors based on the PowerPC architecture licensed from IBM.

The server market has begun to fragment in recent years with the emergence of markets for microservers and more intelligence being pushed towards the network. At the same time there is a focus on energy efficiency in large data centres that expected to perform "cloud" services for consumers who are online for most of their professional and private lives.

Lowe said Freescale should not perceived in a similar light to European chip companies NXP Semiconductor and Infineon Technologies AG that have sold off significant parts of their businesses as part of restructuring over recent years. Since Lowe took over the stewardship of Freescale Semiconductor Inc. 8 months ago the company has been refocused into five business units: analogue and sensors; microcontrollers; automotive microcontrollers; digital networking; RF and other.

Lowe said the company was now in good shape to profit from forthcoming growth in embedded applications and the internet of things; from billions of wireless sensor leaf nodes served by physically small, ultra low power microcontrollers, through multiple layers of networking infrastructure and up to the cloud. Freescale is also able to serve that chain of information processing and connectivity in both general and automotive forms, Lowe said.

Lowe made the point that as embedded connectivity and the internet of things (IoT) grow demand for networking infrastructure and cloud data processing will also grow exponentially.

"The car is a great example of how things are progressing. It used to be a stand-alone system. Now we expect connection. For infotainment, and also things like radar activity, cars interacting with each other autonomously," said Lowe.

The five focus areas that Lowe has selected to drive Freescale into profit show a similar emphasis to processor licensor ARM at both the low-end, in terms of low-power microcontrollers for the Internet of Things, and at the high end where multiple companies are trying to break into networking and serving with ARM licences. However, Freescale still has a commitment to the PowerPC architecture in both automotive processing and high-end networking.

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