Microcode copyright ruling A US court has ruled that a microprocessor's microcode is covered by the laws of copyright. The ruling is the outcome of the first part of a two-stage case brought by Intel against N EC; Intel is alleging that N EC engineers copied the microcode to the 8086/88 to use in the V20 and V30 processors. Having won the first stage by establishing the principle of copyright for microcode, Intel's lawyers now have to prove that the Japanese company did in fact infringe Intel copyright, but Intel management claims to be 'confident' that the rest of the case will be decided in its favour.
Europe's IC 'opportunity' Integrated circuit design technology provides the 'last window of opportunity' for Europe to establish an indigenous semiconductor manufacturing industry, according to Murray Duffin of Italian-based electronics company SGS. Duffin's warning was given during a keynote presentation at the recent Euromicro '86 conference in Venice, Italy. In 1986 it is possible to manufacture up to 10 million gates on a chip, but the limitation to progress is design, Duffin said. People no longer want standard commodity products but applicationspecific devices. Duffin urged greater political cooperation between European governments to build on the success of current collaborative projects such as Esprit and Eureka and to allow a framework to encourage growth of a European semiconductor industry. • Euromicro '86 report: page 557
Parallel processing group The British Computer Society has formed a new specialist group to promote the development of parallel architectures, languages and applications in the UK. The group intends to host evening and one-day meetings to publish newsletters and an annual directory of members. A central repository for technical material relating to parallel processing will also be set up. Further
details of the group are available from Dr Nigel Tucker, Paradis Consultants, East Berriow, Berriow Bridge, North Hill, Nr Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7NL, UK.
'Steady' growth for networks Manufacturing Automation Protocol (MAP) will be the major factor behind the impetus for growth of local area network (I_AN) markets towards 1990 says market research firm Frost & Sullivan. But its report warns that tANs 'will not achieve the explosive growth that many are forecasting'. Instead, 'steady' growth averaging 35% per year in dollar terms is predicted, from a base of $100M this year to a value of $431M in 1989. Two years ago only 3% of tANs by number were MAP-compatible systems, but this will become 40% by 1989 says the report. In contrast, proprietary tANs, those that will interconnect a single vendor's products, will shrink from two-thirds of present tAN installations to slightly over half by 1989. The prominence of MAP will also encourage greater use of broadband as the interconnection medium by the 1990s. Currently twisted pair and baseband connections are more widely used but this will be reversed, the report says.
24% annual ASIC increase Europe will have a $3000M market for custom and semicustom ICs by 1991, resulting from a 24% annual growth rate from $818M in 1985, forecasts another report from Frost & Sullivan. Most of the credit for the increase is ascribed to the cost-cutting effect of computer-aided engineering (CAE) in the semiconductor industry. Largest ASIC supplier to the European market is Ferranti, says F&S, with the market currently dominated by full custom circuits (41%) and gate arrays (33%), well ahead in volume of standard cells, fused programmable logic or silicon compilers. Automotive, military and aerospace users will form the fastest growing market sectors over the next five years, says the F&S report. (Frost & Sullivan Ltd, Sullivan House, 4 Grosvenor Gardens, London SWIW ODH, UK. Tel: 01-730 3438)
Software engineering centre The 'Software Tools Demonstration Centre' is the name of a new establishment set up by the UK Department of Trade and Industry at the National Computing Centre (NCC) in Manchester, UK. The centre's aim is to raise the standards and level of use of software engineering, and the NCC hopes to achieve this by promoting selected products to potential users in an environment that is not dominated by the commercial interests of the software supplier. In particular the centre is expected to act as a 'shop window' for software which develops from the UK's AIvey and Europe's Esprit projects.
Dense-Pak enters Europe US hybrid memory specialist DensePak Microsystems has set up a European sales and marketing office in the UK. Dense-Pak, whose major activity is purchasing unpackaged memory chips from semiconductor vendors, packaging them as surfacemount devices and selling them in various combinations as standard or application-specific hybrid chips, also intends to include a design centre in the UK office for the development and manufacture of custom memory devices. (Dense-Pak Microsystems, Woodstock House, The Street, Bramber, Sussex BN4 3WE, UK. Tel: (0903) 814382)
More languages on RISC Component kits, CPU boards and computer systems based on R2000, the 32-bit RISCmicroprocessor made by MIPS Computer Systems, are to have COBOLand PL/I added to their repertoire. Language Processors is to supply the front-end technology for its versions of the two languages; this will be combined with an optimizer and back-end technology developed by MIPS. The deal signed between the two companies provides options for additional languages and future MIPS products, and is estimated to be worth some $2M over three years.
microprocessors and microsystems