CNET: Sun gives away major chip designs

“Sun Microsystems is distributing the basic designs of its two major chip architectures : Sparc and PicoJava. This is analogous to what’s happening in the Linux world where computer code is basically free. Netscape also does this with its widely used Communicator browser.

The company will make tools and reference materials for its processors available for download beginning at the end of this month.

‘We’ll proliferate this technology much more widely than the way we would under the old model,’ said Harlan McGhan, manager of architecture marketing for microelectronics at Sun. The licensing terms let people use the information for research purposes, requiring royalty payments to Sun only when people actually ship products, McGhan said.

‘Anyone can download, modify, and synthesize the processors for free. Sun will charge a royalty only if customers ship the processors for revenue,’ according to Jim Turley writing in the Microprocessor Report’s Embedded Processor Watch. “

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