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At its annual pulse-taking of its European semiconductor business yesterday, Motorola Inc denied that its 68000 family of microprocessors is nearing the end of its technology curve – and at the same time hinted for the first time that it is likely to launch a new line of reduced instruction set microprocessors in the near future. Speaking at the European Semiconductor Market Review, Motorola’s Ray Burgess, European director of strategic marketing, said that Motorola has been looking at RISC architecture for some time – although the launch is still in the melting pot at the moment, I wouldn’t rule out an announcement in the near future Rumours of a 78000 Series of RISC processors have intensified recently, with at least one company – benchMark Technologies of Kingston, Surrey – expecting to announce products by the end of the year. However, said Burgess, the 68000 Series had been identified as one of the driving technologies that would spearhead Motorola’s development efforts over the next 10 to 15 years. He revealed that the MC68040, due for release at the end of next year, would not be the final version in the family. However, he said, the main trend up to the year 2000 would be an increase in customer participation – and that the 68000 core and instruction set would be retained, whilst allowing designers to add custom requirements for functions such as memory management and graphics using ASIC – application specific integrated circuit – technology. Motorola is currently building up support for ASIC design, both with software tools and data libraries for silicon compilation, and with support through customer design centres. According to European marketing director Jan Calen, the semiconductor industry will continue to expand in 1988, with 20% growth in the US, 16% in Japan, 8% in Europe, and a further boom in the rest of Asia with over 50% growth.

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