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MIPS, TSMC strike joint soft/hardcore licence deal

System-on-chip deal to dramatically cut entry prices

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A joint venture between MIPS and foundry TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) means players wanting to get quickly to market with 64-bit and 32-bit technologies now have a cheaper and easier route, an executive told The Register today. Under the terms of the agreement, which have not been disclosed, MIPS Technologies will license its embedded designs to TSMC, allowing for off-the-shelf solutions for convergency companies and other firms offering home entertainment systems, said John Hall, VP of MIPS Technologies Europe. Hall said: "Previously our licensing model has been based on soft cores. We've taken our entire 32-bit and 64-bit product line which will be optimised for the TSMC [foundry] process, in particular for the 64-bit market." He said that MIPS and TSMC will now, together, offer solutions which will be "a magnitude less expensive" than previous models. In particular, the ability to offer so-called 64-bitness would be attractive to a range of players looking for additional features and security. Companies and startups wanting to create solutions would be able to approach the companies and buy a complete hard core solution using Mips technology off the shelf. Applications could include consumer electronics -- such as high end hi-fi systems, networking infrastructure, and gaming manufacturing companies. Firms creating PDAs and Internet access solutions would also be able to take advantage of a faster time to market, said Hall. The deal between MIPS and TSMC will not, said Hall, cut across existing licencees of its technology. "Many of our existing customers already go to TSMC as a foundry," he said. The alliance will also allow for future cores developed by MIPS to be ported to TSMC processes. At the end of last week, TSMC announced it had developed what it claimed was a breakthrough in 0.15 micron process technology. The foundry is the largest on the island of Taiwan. ®

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