Lucent and Motorola are to combine their efforts in the digital signal processor arena to challenge market leader Texas Instruments.
The chip makers will merge their current projects in next generation DSP core technology in time to take advantage of an expected explosion in electronic appliances based on DSPs. They plan to develop a unified architecture that will span real time embedded control, low-power terminals and multichannel devices.
DSPs are specialised semiconductors that perform high-speed mathematical computations with voice, data and video signals. They are used in mobile phones, pagers, digital cameras and voice recognition systems. Last month, Motorola took a stake in voice recognition firm Nuance.
Lucent and Motorola will cross license each other's newest DSP cores, Lucent's DSP56800 and DSP16000 and Motorola's MCore microcontroller. The firms will then develop their own processors.
A joint design centre called StarCore will also be opened in the US in the third quarter of this year. It is expected to house 100 Motorola and Lucent staff initially, with an investment of between $200,000 (#122,699) and $250,000 (#153,374) per employee.
Will Strauss, president of market research firm Forward Concepts, said the deal is "unprecendented" and a "dramatic event in the DSP industry".
He went on: "It underscores the importance of DSP in the coming decade and will certainly lead to new technology platforms that should be attractive for a wide variety of applications."
John Hughes, European managing director of Lucent's microelectronics group, stressed that the partnership is to combine R&D efforts rather than save money. "There would probably be zero savings. The issue is to combine innovation. We will maintain R&D expenditure at a competitive level," he claimed.
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