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Hitachi, STM to license SuperH CPUs

Form joint venture, SuperH, to take over development, licensing business

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Hitachi and STMicroelectronics are to form a jointly owned company to develop, market and license Hitachi's SuperH CPU family in the US.

The agreement follows an earlier deal which will see the two chip makers collaborate on the development of the next-generation SuperH CPU, the SH-5.

Incidentally, 400MHz S-5 parts are now sampling, and Hitachi reckons it will push it up first to 700MHz then 1GHz. The core will be ready for licensing in the second half of the year.

The company, to be called, obviously, SuperH, will initially offer the current S-4 chip, and take on S-5 when it's complete. Eventually, it will initiate development of future processors in the SuperH family itself.

All the chips will be offered for licensing, suggesting a shift toward the business model employed by the likes of ARM. That's certainly who the company sees as its chief competitor. ARM-derived CPUs account for around 70 per cent of the embedded market. SuperH's market share is less than a tenth of that: 6.8 per cent, but Hitachi and STMicroelectronics how the new company can grow that to 30 per cent over the next five to six years.

The revenue opportunities are significant. Even SuperH's 6.8 per cent of the market brings in revenues of ¥44 billion ($348.99 million).

SuperH will be based in San Jose, with overseas outposts in Tokyo and... er... Bristol. Hitachi's head of microcomputer and ASIC product operations, Toshimasa Kihara, will become SuperH's CEO. Jean-Marie Rolland, currently STMicroelectronics' microcore R&D chief, will become COO. ®

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