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TechWeb: Sun Offers Open-Source Sparc

“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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