MONTREUX, Switzerland Motorola Inc.'s Semiconductor Products Sector will pick up the pace of licensing its intellectual property (IP) cores both inside and outside the company, according to Fred Tucker, president of the sector. "We have not done enough of it," Tucker said of IP licensing. "Within the Standard Products Group, we are encouraging them to do more licensing rather than less."
Motorola will extend core licensing to the microcontroller arena, senior executives said at a press event here. That will enable customers whose chip volumes are too low to justify Motorola's silicon support to stay with Motorola architectures and preserve their software investment, rather than turn to foundries.
While Motorola wants to build a large market for standard products as well as high-volume custom designs, senior executives acknowledged that a middle ground of ASIC users has moved to foundry suppliers. Ideall y, these customers want to stick with host processors and integrate cores they have used historically in peripheral functions. By extending its IP licensing program to controllers, Motorola gives those customers who move to foundries a chance to build system-on-chip (SoC) designs with Motorola architectures instead of other vendors' processors.
Motorola is already licensing its MCore architecture. Now it's targeting established architectures that have built up large bases of code among customers, such as the 68HC05, HC11 and 68000 families. "We have just licensed [the MCore] to Xilinx, and we will be open to consider other cores," said Mario Rivas, corporate vice president and general manager for the Standard Embedded Solutions Group. "There are a lot of people who are interested in licensing [the 68HC05]."
Motorola indicated it would also consider licensing jointly designed cores like the PowerPC, though it would have to take into account its agreement with its PowerPC de velopment partner IBM Corp. The licensing push "is a big change for us; we have always kept these things close to our chest," said Rivas. "But the pull is there."
The 68HC05 is the world's most popular 8-bit microcontroller and exists in hundreds of variants worldwide. The 6805 exists in the form of a hard core only, but Rivas said any porting efforts would be minimal.
Chris Edwards is a contributing editor to Electronics Times, EE Times' sister publication in the United Kingdom.