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EE Times: Momentum builds for open-source hardware

Feb 04, 2001, 15:41 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Clarke)

"Momentum is slowly building for freely available open-source processors, the semiconductor equivalent of open-source software movements like Linux."

"A handful of commercial efforts are experimenting with open-source CPU cores. Contract-manufacturing giant Flextronics, for example, is laying plans to tap into open-source hardware for its ASICs. And both Metaflow Technologies Inc. and IROC Technologies SA are building products using the Leon-1, a Sparc-like open-source processor developed at the European Space Agency's Technology Center."

"Meanwhile, free cores for Bluetooth and the USB 2.0 interface could become available later this year, open-source developers said."

"But the movement has its detractors. "Licensees won't be able to go back to the source" - that is, the engineer who created the design. "That was what killed IP [intellectual-property] core brokerage in the 1990s," said Luke Collins, a principal semiconductor analyst at market research firm Gartner Dataquest."

"And even EDA companies like Cadence, which is enabling this grass-roots movement by freely licensing tools such as NC-Sim to enthusiasts, believe the free-cores effort is marginal at the moment. "To be honest, there's little attention paid by the silicon vendors to these [open-source] blocks," said Adam Sherer, director of system- and functional-verification IP management at Cadence Design Systems Inc."

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