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  1. Technology
October 24, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Entering the programmable logic devices market with the aim of tripling its Far East chip sales within two years, Plessey Semiconductors is to introduce a line of Electrically Reprogrammable Arrays. The line was developed by St Helens, Merseyside-based Pilkington Micro-Electronics Ltd, part of the glass-making group, and is being licensed by Plessey a non exclusive basis. Featuring unlimited configurability, the Plessey arrays have 10K Gate Complexity, fault tolerance, multi tasking programmability and are implemented in Plessey’s 1.4 micron triple layer metal CMOS process. Electrically Reprogrammable Arrays comprise an array of NAND gate cells and programmable interconnections repeated across the chip, with architecture similar to that of a gate array: Plessey says this enables users to carry out their own gate array customising – on and off-line – and provides a low-cost route to applications specific intergrated circuits. The Reprogrammable arrays developed mainly for communications, automotive and military applications – will be avilable in the third quarter of 1989. Plessey also said that it is looking to acquire small firms with specialist design skills, following its purchase of Ferranti’s chip business. Plessey’s November purchase (CI No 820) enabled it to double the size of its chip business; the deal included the F200 and F100 families of military microprocessors, and the gate array implementatiions of Ferranti’s civil and military Argus minicomputers – all are still manufactured in Oldham, Lancashire and supplied to Ferranti. However, Ferranti decided against selling the relational database chip – claimed to be a world first (CI No 665); instead, it is being used in bids for the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigate and a Canadian air traffic control simulator. Plessey – itself suprised by Ferranti’s decision to sell – thinks Ferranti didn’t see the chip business as being quite as important as many observers felt, and that it reflected a strategic shift away from chip and related technologies Ferranti decided to give financial priority to its International Signal & Control acquisition of September, 1987.

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