Peter Clarke, EETimes(09/18/2006 6:55 AM EDT)LONDON
— Simply RISC, a team of engineers formerly with STMicroelectronics NV, has revealed plans to provide design services around its offering of a free 64-bit processor core
. Simply RISC's release of the OpenSPARC T1-based processor is intended to show potential customers the team's capability as well as providing a building block for future system-on-chip and network-on-chip design work.
"Simply RISC is a design center. We haven't plans to sell chips. What we can offer is our time and our expertise," said Fabrizio Fazzino, who described himself as chief system architect, in an email to EE Times. Fazzino went on to say that companies can come to Simply RISC to develop SoC and NoC integrated circuits using either ASIC or field-programmable gate array implementation. "The IP cores we develop are fully released under the GPL, unless a customer asks us to do otherwise," Fazzino added referring to the GNU General Public License.
The S1 is a "cut-down" version of the OpenSPARC T1 multiprocessor, previously codenamed Niagara, which targets embedded devices such as PDAs, set-top boxes and digital cameras. The S1 comprises a single four-thread processor core, rather than the eight four-thread cores present on the T1. However, it is still early days for Simply RISC, which is seeking funding and comprises just five engineers at present.
Fazzino himself worked for ST in Catania, Sicily, between 1998 and 2001 in the group which developed the ST20 and ST40 processors. The group was formed as a result of the acquisition, in 1989 of Inmos Ltd., a U.K. semiconductor company based in Bristol, England, and well-known for having developed a parallel processor known as the transputer.
Fazzino decided to leave ST in 2001 to become a free-lance chip designer, but with the idea to found a company with some former colleagues. "We are all Italian and we work in Italy. However, we are receiving many contacts from all over the world from people who want to help, especially from India and China," said Fazzino. "I would like to include also them in the head count and I probably will in the future."
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