"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
"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
"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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