SAN FRANCISCO Philips Semiconductors will spin out its Real DSP operations into a separate company and use an ARM-like business model to proliferate the 32-bit core into third-generation wireless designs, the company's chief technologist said Thursday (May 31). The spinout could occur within a month.
"We are determined to do this," said Theo Claasen in an interview. "We want to announce this today to show our commitment to the industry, that we think this is the way to go. ARM and MIPS have been successful with their microprocessor-core model. Now is the time to get a similar solution for DSP."
The spinout would be similar to the one Philips completed for its TriMedia processor. The company is talking with several potential investors. Claasen would not give names but said they could include silicon vendors, systems houses and financial concerns. Ultimately, Philips intends to be a minority stakeholder and to take the outfit public, he sai d.
Philips would not be the first on the dance floor with its Real (Reconfigurable Embedded DSP Architecture Low-cost/Low-power) DSP core, which was unveiled in 1998. Texas Instruments, LSI Logic, Infineon, Agere/Motorola and DSP Group all have cores, but Claasen described those approaches variously as captive, "multicaptive" or only medium in performance.
Many semiconductor companies face licensing out their proprietary cores to multiple companies to help with returns on development costs and to achieve critical mass in applications support. But other companies often decline to license key technology from a rival.
Philips faced up to that issue with regard to the TriMedia very long-instruction word processor when it split off TriMedia Technologies. Similarly, Hitachi and STMicroelectronics, development partners for the SH embedded RISC processors, decided to form a new company named SuperH Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) to develop and market SH devices.
Additional reporting by Peter Clarke in Lo ndon.