back to article Dear chip designers: It will no longer cost you an Arm and a leg to use these CPU cores (well, not at first, anyway...)

Attention, chip designers. If you want to add CPU and GPU cores, and other technology, from Arm to your homegrown silicon, and have balked at the upfront costs, this may be of interest. The processor design house wants to lower the barrier to entry by delaying demands for licensing payments until the moment you reach tape-out …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Politics free cores?

    The advantage of open source code and cores is that "it belongs to all of us" -- you're not going to get any of those "Entity List" problems when some politician has a brain fart. The choice of a core or a piece of code IP is often a commercial decision, you don't choose something because its the 'best' but because its most suitable for your business. Now we know that a lot of closed source IP carries significant commercial risks it makes sense for people to avoid using it unless there's absolutely no choice.

    One of those foreseeable side effects of meddling in commercial technology but, as we all know, you can't tell politicians, pundits or other Type A sorts anything -- they know everything, they don't need to listen to lesser folk, just the sorts that know how to stroke egos.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Politics free cores?

      Would be nice to have a open source RISC-V chip of decent performance available off the shelf without any secretive management engine, of the sort Intel, AMD and ARM all include.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Politics free cores?

        Given that Japan has just done a Trump to S Korea I can see a lot of Samsung/LG money being thrown at RISCV alongside all the Chinese befforts

      2. druck Silver badge

        Re: Politics free cores?

        ARM's Trust Zone is nothing like Intel's or AMD's management engine.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Trust Zone


          It runs code you may have no access to, it can alter to main OS you are running, and is used for stuff like DRM and secure boot to prevent you from using hardware in any way you see fit. How is that so different from Intel/AMD?

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: Trust Zone

            The secure OS running inside the trust zone is under the complete control of the device manufacturer, not a secret closed source system within the chip under the exclusive control of Intel.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Trust Zone

              I'm sorry, but if it is not under my control then in makes no difference. It is still a 3rd party Trojan.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Not cheap these things.

    I was hoping to design some CMOS stuff for monolithic inverters and the like. They (not ARM) wanted $40K for the details required to even work out if their process was up to it. It was almost like they didnt want people to use it!

  3. rcxb

    That's the sound of an enstablished company wanting to stay relevant in the face of a disruptive upstart, but being completely and totally unwilling to disrupt their existing lucrative business at all to do so. They should be offering some of their older, low-end chips for free...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      They do (sort of)

      Certain Xilinx FPGAs are licenced to contain some of the older ARM cores.

      Otherwise, remember that we're talking about designs for silicon. Fabricating a chip is seriously expensive, it's not something you can do at home. The licence cost is pittance in comparison.

      The annoying part is having to pay up-front for IP that you don't even use, if you discover during FPGA/ASIC emulation/prototyping that the cores that marketing materials implied could do the job, don't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They do (sort of)

        "The annoying part is having to pay up-front for IP that you don't even use"

        Thats not really the design houses problem though. You wouldn't expect a supermarket to give you free food and you pay for it later but only if you like it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They do (sort of)

          Your analogy is defective..

          more accurate would be buying some parts for your car, finding you don't need them then taking them back for a refund.

          Which you can do

          Or buying some hardware from a vendor, finding out its incompatible, then getting a credit note or refund against it.

          Which you can do

          Or buying something from amazon, finding that its awful, then returning it for a refund

          Which you can do

          ... you get the picture

          The only time your usage case holds water is if you want an ISO doc or a journal, and we all know how broken these systems are, so they are a crap example

  4. PM.


    Also now MIPS architecture is completely free ..

  5. DenTheMan

    Cortex A35 is 2015, not earlier as stated.

    The ultra low power A35 is one of the most underused cores in the portfolio.

  6. sw guy

    Hard macros ?

    If you just want to add some CPU of well-known architecture into the chip with your splendid stuff, may be having a look to hard macros of your founder could be worth the time, no ?

  7. Christian Berger

    BTW the biggest FPGAs with completely FOSS toolchains...

    ... are now big enough to be able to implement a simple Risc VI core.

    Now if one would port one of those tiny operating systems like "Retro BSD" to it, add some hardware in the FPGA as well as more RAM, you could have a completely free (as in speech) Platform.

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