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August 29, 1988

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS TO FABRICATE, USE SUN’s SPARC PROCESSOR

By CBR Staff Writer

Texas Instruments is expected to declare this week that it will become the sixth manufacturer licensed by Sun Microsystems Inc to fabricate a version of the Sparc RISC microprocessor – and that it intends to use it as the basis of new high end Texas Instruments Data Systems computers. That decision is something of a blow to Motorola Inc, since Texas currently uses the 68000 family in its high-end Unix machines, but the company is clearly unhappy at having to buy in microprocessors from an arch-rival. Texas will reportedly second source the version of the Sparc made by Cypress Semiconductor, San Jose, which fabricates in CMOS the 25MHz version of the part used Sun in its Sun-4 workstations, and has also announced a 33MHz version. Texas Instruments had hinted at its interest in the Sparc back in March when it came out with the SN74ACT8847 maths co-processor and said that the part would be pitched particularly at people building machines around the Sparc (CI No 896). Texas will be the sixth manufacturer – and the second major after Fujitsu Ltd’s US arm – to take a licence to manufacture the Sun chip. LSI Logic Corp, Milpi tas, is also doing CMOS versions, while Bipolar Integrated Technology up in Beaverton, Oregon is doing an ECL version. And a week or so back the Multiflow Technologies Inc unit of Elan Industries announced it had taken a licence to make an ECL ver sion of the Sparc and use it in a 100 MIPS, 100 MFLOPS superworkstat ion (CI No 997). Major computer manufacturers that have declared for the Sparc as the basis of fut ure Unix machines are AT&T Co, Xer ox Corp, Unisys Corp and ICL Ltd, although Unisys will have a foot in two camps if its acquisition of Convergent Inc goes through as planned: Convergent has committed for the Motorola 88000 RISC. Fuji tsu Ltd is also effectively commit ted to the Sparc because as well as making a version of the chip, it is basing its future Unix workstations on the Sun family, although initi ally it will buy finished ones OEM.

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