Alchemy chips go for MIPS

Alchemy chips go for MIPS
Richard Ball The Alchemy Microprocessor Design Group, the StrongARM team that defected from Digital Semiconductor to Cadence Design Systems last year, is to develop processors based on the MIPS architecture. Alchemy has taken out a licence with MIPS Technologies for its latest instruction set architecture. ‘The agreement is an architectural licence for MIPS32, which MIPS will disclose at the Embedded Processor Forum in May,’ said Greg Hoeppner, former director of StrongARM development and head of the Alchemy team. ‘We’ll be implementing our own processor around the architecture.’ The decision by Alchemy is a major coup for MIPS, especially when there are powerful CPU core alternatives from the likes of ARM and Hitachi. Indeed, Intel’s StrongARM might have been a most obvious choice. ‘You say StrongARM is licensable – I’m not sure that’s true,’ said Hoeppner. Alchemy is aiming its processors at applications such as third generation mobile phones. Anything the group produces will be keenly anticipated, considering its track record in high performance, low power CPU design. Another Cadence subsidiary, the UK’s Symbionics with its communications expertise, could also help with the development. ‘We wouldn’t rule it out,’ said Shane Robison, senior v-p at Cadence. ‘That would be an effective way of getting to market.’ Cadence intends to spin off the team as an independent company. It is looking for investors to buy the majority of the design group. ‘The company will be more successful as an independent entity,’ said Robison. ‘This is not our core business.’


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