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Sun licenses chip patents to Arm

Phone & PDA chip firm to use Sun's Sparc

Sun Microsystems has licensed a suite of microprocessor patents to Arm Holdings, the UK firm that licenses its microprocessor core designs for use in embedded and graphics processors, and processors for mobile phones and PDAs.

Arm plans to use Sun's chip multithreading, Java, input/output, memory and power management technologies in designs for chips used in a variety of connected devices, Sun said today.

This would be the first licensing of Sun's 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 a 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 10GB Ethernet networking technology to Marvell Technology Group on 3 April.


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