Arm is reworking the DesignStart program it introduced several years ago to encourage use of some of its microcontroller-oriented cores in ASICs for IoT and similar designs.
DesignStart, which waived the upfront license fee for the cores such as the Cortex-M0, is being rolled into the broader Flexible Access program.
Arm said the aim of the restructuring is to make it easier for companies to move to other cores not in the existing DesignStart program. The company claims thousands of designs have taped out using DesignStart, which has become a tier of Flexible Access, a program that has its own no-fee arrangement for qualifying startups. The program will continue to offer CPUs and Corstone with no upfront cost, though they attract a royalty once in volume production. Customers can register on arm.com, click an agreement, and then download the Cortex-M0, Cortex-M23, Cortex-M3 and physical IP based with no license fees. The Cortex-A5 systems for what the company calls a small license fee.
Designers who want access to a broader portfolio cores, numbering about 80 CPU, GPU, NPU and system IP products, can move to the Flexible Access Entry and Standard Tiers by paying an access fee but with no conventional license fee for the specific cores. Flexible Access for Startups provides no-cost access to the Entry Tier for qualifying early-stage startups, which has around 30 companies on its roster.