RealTime IT News

Freescale: Split, Then Grow

After more than 50 years as part of Motorola, Freescale Semiconductor is finally going it alone.

The Austin, Texas-based firm said Thursday that it has officially spun off from parent Motorola since becoming a publicly traded company in July 2004. The division was established after Motorola decided to focus only on its wireless systems and telephone business.

Freescale specializes in chips for the burgeoning automotive application market as well as communications processors and wireless infrastructure microcontrollers.

As part of the spin-off, Motorola CFO David Devonshire and senior vice president Leif Soderberg resigned as Freescale board members as a result of the distribution by Motorola of its remaining equity interest in Freescale.

Based on its 2003 sales of $4.9 billion, the company is now calling itself the third-largest U.S. semiconductor company behind Intel and AMD .

"Freescale is combining the best aspects of our Motorola heritage with the competitive spirit and fresh vision of a new enterprise. We are excited to have these new investors with us as we move forward," said Freescale chairman and CEO Michel Mayer, in a statement.

The company's portfolio of microcontrollers (MCU) and analog chips include products such as 8- and 16-bit MCUs, SMARTMOS and e-Switch electronic components. Freescale also maintains design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations in more than 30 countries.

The transition has not slowed Freescale down much. In the last six months, the company has continued to make deals and release product.

Earlier this week, the company introduced its next generation PowerQUICC III processors, which are the first processors based upon serial RapidIO technology.

Recently, Freescale said it would cooperate with Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe to build in-vehicle navigation, entertainment and driver information services. Already Hyundai said it will base its next-generation NAVI family of 3-D navigation systems on Freescale's 32-bit, 400 MHz MPC5200 processor; Fujitsu's high-performance "Coral P/PA" graphics display controller and Tilcon software's graphics software.

General Motors and Freescale recently announced an agreement in which Freescale's MPC5500 MCUs will be used in future GM engine control systems.

In September, Freescale revealed a supply agreement with Siemens VDO Automotive, worth an estimated USD$245 million. The contract includes ASIC, MCU, analog and sensor components. As part of the agreement, Siemens VDO Automotive selected Freescale's MPC5500 MCUs and supporting analog products for multiple engine and transmission applications.

Freescale also has ZigBee-ready platforms available and is delivering a new Video and Voice over IP (V2IP) package based on its i.MX21 multimedia applications processor enabling real time videoconferencing. The company is also sampling its RF receivers for handheld Digital Video Broadcasting systems.