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TechWeb: Sun Offers Open-Source Sparc

Sep 15, 1999, 18:29 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Craig Matsumoto)

"The adoption of open-source principles at Sun Microsystems continues this week when the company puts a Sparc microprocessor under its Community Source License (CSL) for the first time, hoping to spread Sparc's use in system-on-a-chip designs.

Some in the open-source community have criticized the CSL for deviating from what they call true open-sourcelicensing, and fellow processor vendors are questioning whether Sun can make the CSL work. But Sun's efforts beg an even larger question: whether the open-source policy that helped spawn the GNU and Linux software communities can do the same for a piece of hardware."

"Royalty payments are made to Sun upon volume shipments of any product developed. In a change from previous CSL licenses, which left payments up to negotiation, the royalty for Microsparc is set at 3 percent of the average selling price."

"The plan is to create a community around Microsparc, where smaller developers can mingle online with tool and software vendors to wrest possibilities from the architecture. Changes and new peripherals created under the CSL have to be offered back to the community."

"Sun said it is hoping Sparc can displace MIPS -- and to a lesser extent, ARM -- as the core of choice in SoC designs. By offering RTL code for the part, Sun said it expects to create an alternative for smaller designers unable to afford MIPS' licensing fees."

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