Sun develops mobile chips for ARM

Sun Microsystems is licensing its chip multithreading processor design to a UK company for use in the mobile processor markets

Sun Microsystems, in its continual rollout of processors from its new Microelectronics division, is making a multithreaded chip for various embedded and mobile devices.

Sun said Tuesday it is licensing a suite of patents to ARM Holdings, a U.K.-based company that makes embedded and graphics processors and processors for mobile devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants.

ARM plans to use Sun's Java chip multithreading, input/output, memory and power management technologies in a variety of connected devices.

This would be the first licensing of Sun's scalable processor architecture (SPARC) chip multithreading (CMT) technology in mobile devices after using it primarily in Sun servers, said Fadi Azhari, director of marketing for SPARC CMT technology.

CMT is a processor design that allows multiple sets, or threads, of instructions to travel through a processor at the same time. Multithreading makes more efficient use of the processor, thus reducing energy usage. Sun's Niagara 1 and 2 processors offer CMT.

"We have not licensed chip multithreading in that [mobile] market," Azhari said. "What we are doing here is unleashing this huge innovation that we have at the silicon level, with CMT, to enable other companies to be successful and build that marketplace."

Sun created the Microelectronics division in late March to develop processor technology for use in Sun hardware but also to license the technology to other firms. The strategy is to help companies develop more technology products that will generate new demand for Sun's servers, storage and other IT infrastructure.

However, this does not mean that Sun is about to begin developing mobile devices, Azhari said.

The first licensing deal from the Microelectronics group was of 10G-byte Ethernet networking technology to Marvell Technology Group on April 3.

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Robert Mullins

IDG News Service
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