Bernie ColeEE Times (10/03/2008 7:53 PM EDT)
Based on watching electronics companies try to merge and manage two different product lines over the years, I don't think Microchip's plans for supporting combined 8/16- and 32-bit MCU product lines, if its attempted acquisition of Atmel succeeds, is realistic.
History suggests that a company with two 8/16-bit microcontroller architectures and at least two different 32-bit CPU architectures will not survive very long. One of three outcomes is likely: the company will crash and burn in the effort, one or the other architecture will go into the dustbin of history, or the company will sell off one of them, the way Microchip plans to sell Atmel's nonvolatile memory and RF and automotive businesses to On Semiconductor.
A look at the industry's history reveals that trying to support more than one architecture just does not work. In the recent past, Intel Corp. was juggling three different architectures, targeting three different markets: the DEC StrongARM-derived PXA2xx targeting mobile and consumer designs, the IXP4xx family of network processors it also acquired from DEC, and the X86 architecture targeted at desktops, laptops and servers. What we have now is a single architecture from Intel, targeting all these segments.
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