Volume 4, Number 18 -- May 17, 2007

Sun Inks Deal with ARM for Chip Intellectual Property

Published: May 17, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Sun Microsystems might have open sourced the design of its multicore "Niagara" Sparc T1 processor under the OpenSparc project, but that doesn't mean that its newly established and free-standing Microelectronics group doesn't want to make money selling intellectual property. Sun most certainly does want to do that, and this week it inked a deal with British embedded chip maker ARM, the first of what the company hopes will be many such deals.

ARM chips are 32-bit RISC processors that were originally created by a company called Acorn Computers, which has a long history in embedded processing. An Advanced RISC Machine chip was used in the ill-fated granddaddy of modern mobile computing devices, the Apple Computer Newton; the former Digital equipment licensed the ARM intellectual property to create a variant of the chip called StrongARM, and Intel used to have an ARM variant for embedded devices called XScale, until it sold the business to chip maker Marvell in June 2006. Suffice it to say, ARM chips are used in all kinds of embedded devices where power consumption is a big issue, such as in cell phones and other mobile gear as well as in myriad other embedded devices--even sometimes in a RAID disk controllers, but as the brains inside of disk drives or routers.

ARM, the company, does not make chips, but rather licenses the cores and related tools that allow others to design and possibly manufacture their own variants of the ARM architecture. Many of the companies that do supply ARM chips go to third parties to actually fabricate their processors--much as Sun itself goes to Texas Instruments to deliver its Sparc processors for its workstations and servers.

The one thing that ARM needs, therefore, is a big bag of tricks to keep the ARM architecture relevant. Manufacturers of embedded and mobile devices are facing the same conflicting issues as server makers--companies want more performance, but they want chips and the systems they build using them to consume less power. To that end, according to Marc Tremblay, Sun's chief technology officer, ARM is buying a license to a package of several hundred patents relating to Sun's chips and related technologies that spans back to 1995. While Tremblay is not specific about exactly what ARM has acquired, he says that it includes patents relating to the first-generation UltraSparc-I chips, as well as the picoJava and MAJC Java processors that Sun developed but did not successfully commercialize. ARM has also taken some IP related to the future 16-core "Rock" Sparc RK processors as well as to the Niagara chips, with particular emphasis on multicore and multithreading architectures. Tremblay says that ARM has also picked up some patents relating to graphics, I/O, memory management, and power management as well.

"ARM has been a partner of Sun's for many years," said Tremblay, referring to the chip multithreading architecture that is at the heart of the Niagara and Rock processors. "This broadens the ecosystem for CMT, and that is a critical objective for Sun."

Sun and ARM did not disclose the value of the deal, but Tremblay said that it was "not thousands of dollars, and it was not billions, either."


Sun Boots Solaris 10 on "Rock" Sparc Processors

Yen Explains Sun's Chip Strategy

Sun Breaks Sparc Unit Free Again

                     Post this story to del.icio.us
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot

Sponsored By

HP, IBM and Sun Server Deals via RSS

                                                  · Subscribe to our Specials via RSS
                                                  · Up to 80% off manufacturer's list price
                                                  · Multi-million dollar inventory

We Buy & Sell new and remarketed servers,
upgrades, peripherals and parts.

HP Proliant, IBM xSeries, IBM pSeries, RS6000,
HP Integrity, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, more…

View or Subscribe to:
Special Offers on Servers and Upgrades

Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.

Sponsored Links

Vibrant Technologies:  Quality Used Servers, Storage & Networking Hardware at up to 80% off new
World Data Products:  FREE 84-page Unix/Midrange Server Spec Book
COMMON:  Join us at the Annual 2008 conference, March 30 - April 3, in Nashville, Tennessee

The Four Hundred
Aldon Acquired by Marlin Equity Partners

Some Thoughts on i5 Spending Patterns

IBM Sees Green in Going Green in Data Centers

Children's Foundation Blossoms from Sirius Computer

The Linux Beacon
Red Hat to Push Desktop Linux with Intel Partnership

RHEL 5: How's It Going?

IBM Sees Green in Going Green in Data Centers

As I See It: Education--the Other Dysfunction

Four Hundred Stuff
Look, Ma, 5250 App Access from Outlook, Google

LANSA Upgrades Modernization Tool

RJS Unveils New Forms, PDF Solutions for System i

NGS Makes DB2/400 Data Accessible from MS Office

Big Iron
Unisys Ports OS 2200 Mainframe Operating System to Xeons

Top Mainframe Stories From Around the Web

Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings

Four Hundred Guru
Groovy: A Powerful Scripting Language for Java Developers on System i

Old Programs Can Learn to Behave Themselves

Another Way to Retrieve i5 System Storage Space

System i PTF Guide
May 12, 2007: Volume 9, Number 19

May 5, 2007: Volume 9, Number 18

April 28, 2007: Volume 9, Number 17

April 21, 2007: Volume 9, Number 16

April 14, 2007: Volume 9, Number 15

April 7, 2007: Volume 9, Number 14

The Windows Observer
It's Official: Windows Server 2008

Microsoft Slashes 'Viridian' Features to Meet Ship Date

Microsoft Talks Up SQL Server 'Katmai'

Microsoft Claims Linux Violates 42 of Its Patents

Four Hundred Monitor
Four Hundred Monitor's
Full iSeries Events Calendar


Canvas Systems
Lakeview Technology
Vibrant Technologies

HP Turns in a Solid Fiscal 2007 Second Quarter

IBM's AIX Roadmap Through 2015

Sun's Board Authorizes $3 Billion in Share Buybacks

The X Factor: Small Is Beautiful

But Wait, There's More:

Sun Inks Deal with ARM for Chip Intellectual Property . . . The Gulf Between Buyers and Sellers Widens in IT, Says IDC . . . IBM Supports WebSphere Tools on HP-UX . . . Java Finally Open Sourced Completely--Almost . . . Stonesoft Gives Security Appliance a Speed Boost . . . TomorrowNow Says Biz is Booming, Opens Mexico Office . . .

The Unix Guardian


Subscription Information:
You can unsubscribe, change your email address, or sign up for any of IT Jungle's free e-newsletters through our Web site at http://www.itjungle.com/sub/subscribe.html.

Copyright © 1996-2008 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement