In my previous blogs, we discussed how the 8051 microcontroller managed to become one of the most popular controllers ever. We also focused on its architecture and some of the architectural improvements that have been implemented to tailor 8051-based solutions to the 21st century.
All of these discussions touched upon another interesting topic -- that of intellectual property (IP) cores in general. As we all know, an IP core is a complex functional block of electronic circuitry. Some IP cores are developed internally by the system design house, while others are acquired from third-party suppliers. In this latter case, the use of the IP core is licensed to other companies by the original designer (there are several sites that provide more information on this, such as WiseGeek.com).
When we peer back into the mists of time to the early ages of electronics (but not as far back as Sven's trousers or Max's ZZ Top haircut), it's easy to see that the IP core licensing approach has changed dramatically over the course of the last decade or two. Ten or 15 years ago, almost everybody was leery about the concept of third-party IP -- for example, engineers simply were not sure if they could trust outside suppliers.
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