By Woz Ahmed, Imagination Technologies
EETimes (April 7, 2020)
The first two eras of 32/64-bit embedded processors were defined by proprietary architectures. The third won’t be.
During the First Era of 32/64-bit embedded CPUs, which spanned the 1980s and 1990s, semiconductor companies developed and maintained their own proprietary CPU architectures. And there were many of them. The cost of maintaining these architectures became increasingly burdensome, and third-party operating software vendors were — for reasons of their own, involving costs, complexity and ROI — unwilling to support multiple unique CPU architectures. The cost crunch and lack of third-party software support encouraged companies to abandon their proprietary architectures and license processor intellectual property (IP).
This led to the Second Era, during the late 1990s and 2000s, of licensing proprietary processor architectures. Companies such as Arm, ARC, Andes, MIPS, Tensilica, and others offered licenses to their proprietary processor cores. Arm offered an architecture license, which gave customers the right to develop their own implementation using the vendor’s “blueprints.”
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