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  1. Technology
April 13, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

In an endorsement that could transform the prospects for the Acorn Computers Plc ARM Acorn RISC Machine microprocessor, mighty Sanyo Electric Co Ltd of Tokyo signed a second source agreement for the part with its manufacturer, the Tempe, Arizona Application Specific Logic Products division of VLSI Technology Inc. Under the agreement, Sanyo will manufacture and market the 32-bit VL86C010 Acorn RISC Machine chip family worldwide. The second-source agreement covers the microprocessor and three peripheral circuits that are currently in production at VLSI Technology, and future derivatives within the ARM family. A January Dataquest report indicates that the part captured 33% of the RISC microprocessor market in 1987, only a year after introduction – but much of that will have been sales to Acorn for use in the Archimedes home computer. Sanyo will use VLSI’s software tools to develop the family further, and will also provide Japanese-language documentation for its home market. The partners also plan new devices, such as laser printer engines, raster graphics and network-specific derivatives, aimed at controller applications that demand high performance at reasonable cost. And as the VL86C010 chip was created with VLSI Technology design tools, it already exists as a core in a cell library. VLSI rates the part at 6 MIPS sustained, 12 MIPS peak, and as it is relatively cheap – it has to be to be used in a UKP700 home computer – it sees the part being adopted as a cost effective solution for the real-time embedded controller market. VLSI and Acorn both decline to give details of their financial relationship, except to say that the Cambridge firm 80% owned by Olivetti, gets a royalty on each part.

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