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Freescale, IBM examine IP-sharing opportunities

Posted on: 14-Mar-2007

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The early attention to the Jan. 23rd agreement between Freescale Semiconductor and IBM naturally was on process development. Freescale is leaving Crolles and joining Fishkill, becoming the only company other than IBM to participate in both the high-performance SOI alliance and the low-power bulk alliance. The LP-bulk alliance includes Chartered, Freescale, IBM, Infineon, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba.
As the process alignment between IBM and Freescale proceeds, that “opens the door to IP sharing, including packaging,” said Lynelle McKay, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Networking & Computing Systems Group (NCSG). (see earlier article on Freescale’s RCP packaging technology).
McKay, who joined Freescale in 1988 after earning an electronic engineering degree from the University of Hawaii, manages the “convergence” effort, i.e., bringing voice, video, data, and wireless together in IP-based networks. “We are making a much bigger push in IP-based networking, particularly in the home. How to integrate the legacy networks into an IP-based model is a big challenge. But now we see that consumers have a much bigger appetite” for IP-based technologies, she said.
Video on demand, residential gateways and digital media servers, and fiber to the home all present huge opportunities. No company can go it alone. Freescale’s recent networking offerings all have relied on Freescale silicon and software from partners, including Axentra, Celestica, Jungo, Mediabolic, and Wavesat.
IBM and Freescale have cooperated for 15 years on what is now called the Power processor architecture, starting with the Somerset PowerPC design center, which included Apple. Now, IBM shares development with Freescale in, particularly in the embedded sector. could provide another base for IP sharing.
Long range, it will be interesting to see if Freescale takes a license for the high-performance SOI-based embedded DRAM technology developed by IBM over the past decade. And Freescale has its MRAM memory technology to offer IBM.
Freescale’s CEO, Michel Mayer, and its top strategist Sumit Sadana, both came to Freescale after long careers at IBM’s semiconductor operation. They are intimately familiar with what kinds of IP would benefit Freescale, ranging from circuit models to middleware, design tools to SoC libraries.
Other members of the Fishkill alliance could participate in IP sharing as well, giving convergence a whole new layer of meaning.

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