ARM will add one of its most frequently licensed processor cores to its foundry programme for fabless chip companies, so those companies can develop products using ARM cores without the up front cost that other chip companies pay.
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The foundry programme allows companies lacking large, expensive semiconductor fabrication plants to design processors for mobile devices using ARM cores, said John Rayfield, vice-president of marketing for the US.
Participants in the programme will now have access to the ARM926EJ core, which is designed for chips that will power devices such as smartphones, personal digital assistants and digital cameras.
Normally, ARM's partners such as Intel and Texas Instruments pay large up front fees to license core technology. ARM then gets a royalty fee for each chip sold.
In the foundry programme, ARM sells a single-use manufacturing licence for a processor core technology to foundries such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, United Microelectronics or IBM. It then sells another single-use design licence to the fabless design company to incorporate the ARM core in one of its products, which would then be built at the licensed foundry.
The up front cost of the single-use licence is much lower than the full licence, but ARM collects a higher royalty rate on each processor sold, Rayfield said.
The ARM926EJ core has been used in many processors since it was introduced in 2001, including chips from Texas Instruments, Sony and STMicroelectronics. It is the first processor core to support Java that ARM has made available to the foundry programme.
ARM is also putting its PrimeXsys technology into the foundry programme for the first time, Rayfield said.
The PrimeXsys reference design allows companies to license designs for peripheral chip components, such as a memory controller and an overall system controller for use with ARM cores.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service