ColdFire MCUs have been part of Freescale’s 68K family since 1994. Because of their popularity, the company has decided to make the 32-bit V1 ColdFire core available to the embedded community through IPextreme, an IP licensing company. Yet the ever-competitive MCU core market has prompted IPextreme to offer V1 ColdFire for as low as $10,000.
“By offering the V1 ColdFire core to developers at the $10K threshold, Freescale and IPextreme are providing an exceptionally cost-effective entry point to ColdFire architecture,” said Aiden Mitchell, consumer and industrial MCU product manager for Freescale’s Microcontroller Solutions Group. “IPextreme’s innovative online Core Store gives customers the design freedom and flexibility to develop application-specific solutions without the high cost and long sales cycle usually associated with traditional core technology transactions.”
The V1 ColdFire, a simplified version of the V2, was designed for entry-level 32-bit applications while requiring a marginal footprint. The V1 was also engineered to consume the lowest power of any ColdFire products to date. However, it can deliver around 10 times the performance of 8-bit MCUs. And for designers who don’t require performance enhancers to give them an edge, the multiply- accumulate (MAC) and enhanced MAC divide functions are optional, which helps keeps costs down.
The RISC-based V1 architecture includes a two-stage instruction fetch pipeline and a two-stage operand execution pipeline (see the figure). The core provides an entry-level solution with an upwardcompatible path to higher-performance ColdFire cores.
“Offering a single-use license of the V1 ColdFire core at a $10,000 price point will create significant disruption and expand design opportunities in the entry-level 32-bit embedded marketplace,” said Warren Savage, president and CEO of IPextreme. “We are excited to join forces with Freescale in this industry- changing licensing initiative.”
So for your next 32-bit ASIC design, you can plop down a V1 core among your proprietary IP blocks and leverage the third-party tools and software ecosystem built around the ColdFire MCU family. When you find yourself in need of more blocks, IPextreme will soon open the virtual doors of its online Core Store.
“IPextreme seems to serve as a virtual shopping mall for Freescale cores,” said Tom Starnes, processor analyst at Objective Analysis. “The ColdFire core architecture has a rich history and a huge following, so it’s good to see it available to customers wanting to add the architecture to their ASIC designs at an outrageously low cost.”
Another way Freescale is simplifying designs is by providing a standard product platform (SPP) that’s compatible with the V1 core. The SPP is a collection of silicon-tested peripheral IP that can be added to save time when engineering your ASIC.
The V1 ColdFire should be available for licensing by the end of this quarter from IPextreme through its online Core Store. V1 ColdFire core licensing fees start at $10,000 for a basic single-use license.